They are mostly herbaceous perennials with bright yellow or white flowers [if white, still with a yellow centre]; some are annuals or biennials. A few species have orange or red flowers. There are usually five petals, but sometimes six, numerous, or none, as in Ranunculus auricomus. The petals are often highly lustrous, especially in yellow species.
Ranunculus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Hebrew Character and Small Angle Shades. Some species are popular ornamental flowers in horticulture, with many cultivars selected for large and brightly colored flowers.
The name Ranunculus is Late Latin for “little frog,” from rana “frog” and a diminutive ending. This probably refers to many species being found near water, like frogs.
The name buttercup may derive from a false belief that the plants give butter its characteristic yellow hue. In the interior of the Pacific Northwest of the United States the buttercup is called “Coyote’s eyes”. In the legend Coyote was tossing his eyes up in the air and catching them again when Eagle snatched them. Unable to see, Coyote made eyes from the buttercup.
Ranunculus is sweet, brightly colored spring flowers that are characterized by their many tightly wrapped layers of petals.
Ranunculus is getting more popular for wedding bouquet and many modern floral arrangements.