Creeping buttercup Ranunculus repens

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See May, June, July, August
Colour Yellow
Habitat Woodland

Do you like butter? Generations of children have grown up holding buttercups under their chin to see if they do.

‘Against her ankles as she trod, The lucky buttercups did nod.’ Jean Ingelow,Reflections’.

There are many species of buttercup in the UK. By far the most likely to pop up on your lawn are the Creeping and Bulbous Buttercups. You can tell them apart by looking at the small, green leaf-like bits immediately beneath the petals: Bulbous Buttercup’s curl away from the flower while Creeping Buttercup’s do not.

Also common in pastures is the tallest of our buttercups, the Meadow Buttercup. Unlike its close relatives, its stem is not furrowed.

Creeping buttercup has shiny yellow flowers and creeping runners which root at the nodes. Grows in large often circular patches. Three-lobed hairy leaves with end lobe stalked. The sepals encircle the petals and the stalks are furrowed.

Distribution

Found throughout the UK.

Habitat

Meadows, pastures and damp grassy places. Can also be found on the edges of wet woodland, sand dunes, roadsides or on rocky outcrops. Survives mowing and therefore common lawns.

Best time to see

When in flower, from May to late summer.

Did you know?

The origin of the name appears to come from a belief that it gave butter its golden hue. In reality buttercups are poisonous to cattle and are often left uneaten.

Common names are legion and include Creeping crazy, Devil’s guts, Lantern leaves, Old wife’s threads and Tangle-grass. Other expressive local names used to describe the buttercup before the name came into common use in the 18th Century include goldweed, soldier buttons and kingcup. Many of these are now obsolete although ‘crowpeckle’ survives in Northamptonshire.

They are frequently featured in medieval church carvings, perhaps as a result of their fingered leaves. They can be seen, for instance, in Bristol Cathedral and carved on the capitals of Southwell Minster Chapter House in Nottinghamshire.