THE POISON GARDEN website Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 

Search thepoisongarden.co.uk:

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Click for menu of plants in the A to Z section

Ranunculus acris, meadow buttercup

Summary

One of the prettiest meadow flowers so it is surprising that so few cases of harm are recorded.

Blog Entries

Read more about Ranunculus acris, meadow buttercup, in these blog entries (most recent first);
Research into Equine Grass Sickness suggests buttercups may be associated with outbreaks.

Family

Ranunculaceae

Meaning of the Name

Ranunculus
Literally from the Latin for ‘little frog’ and said to be because the plants like wet conditions but it may have come via a derogatory name for people who lived nears marshes.
 
acris
‘Biting’ or ‘sharp’ from the unpleasant taste.

Common Names and Synonyms

meadow buttercup, buttercup

Ranunculus acris, meadow buttercup

Ranunculus acris, meadow buttercup

How Poisonous, How Harmful?

The plant produces protoanemonin, which is at its highest concentration at the flowering stage. It is quite unstable and drying of the plant leads to its polymerisation into a crystalline non-toxic anemonin. Protoanemonin is formed from the glycoside ranunculin when the plant is crushed.

This instability may explain why buttercups are not viewed with the same venom as Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort, when it comes to livestock deaths. Since the toxins rapidly degrade, there is little risk of harm if Ranunculus species are included in conserved forage.

Ingestion produces inflammation of the mouth followed by abdominal pain. Ulceration of the mouth and damage to the digestive system follow. Diarrhoea occurs and urine can be bloody. Convulsions precede death. Protoanemonin is volatile and can be given off when handling the plant leading to eye and nasal irritation.

Incidents

The following are all taken from American Medicinal Plants by Charles F. Millspaugh

A man in Bevay, France drank a glass of juice made from buttercups. He suffered severe colic after four hours and was dead the next day.

A lady who applied the bruised plant to her chest, based on the premise that use of an irritant would counter an existing irritation, became ill-humoured, fretful and cross.

A sailor, who inhaled the fumes of the burning plant, suffered epilepsy for the first time in his life. Two weeks later, he suffered a further attack which led to his death.

Folklore and Facts

Is said to give a brighter yellow colour to butter. On May Day, the Irish used to rub buttercups onto cows udders, a tradition to supposedly encourage milk production. In some places, this tradition continues.

If a buttercup held beneath your chin casts a reflection against the flesh, you are fond of butter.

Victorians believed it stood for ingratitude and childishness. Some folklore believes yellow to be an evil colour and, hence, gives the plant an evil side.

IMPORTANT NOTE

The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.

 

Site Update

All the pages in the A to Z section are regularly updated.

If you've had a personal encounter with a poisonous plant please use the contact form to tell us about it.

A to Z Links

Not familiar with botanical names? Try this common name A to Z converter

Introduction to the A to Z section
Abrus precatorius, rosary pea
Aconitum lycoctonum, wolfsbane
Aconitum napellus, monkshood
Actaea racemosa, black cohosh
Actaea spicata, baneberry
Aesculus hippocastanum, horse chestnut
Amanita muscaria, fly agaric
Aquilegia atrata, columbine
Aristolochia clematitis, birthwort
Artemisia absinthium, wormwood
Arum italicum, Italian cuckoopint
Arum maculatum, cuckoopint
Aspergillus fumigatus
Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade
Brugmansia suaveolens, angel's trumpet
Bryonia dioica, bryony
Buxus sempervirens, common box
Camellia sinensis, tea
Cannabis sativa, marijuana
Catha edulis, khat
Chelidonium majus, greater celandine
Cimicifuga racemosa, black cohosh
Claviceps purpurea, ergot
Clematis vitalba, old man's beard
Colchicum autumnale, naked ladies
Conium maculatum, poison hemlock
Convallaria majalis, lily of the valley
Cynoglossum officinale, hound’s tongue
Daphne mezereon, spurge olive
Datura stramonium, thorn apple, jimsonweed
Datura suaveolens, angel's trumpet
Delphinium, larkspur
Digitalis spp., foxglove
Dracunculus vulgaris, dragon arum
Echium vulgare, viper’s bugloss
Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconite
Erythroxylum coca, cocaine
Euonymus europaeus, spindle tree
Euphorbia x martinii, red spurge
Euphorbia pulcherrima, poinsettia
Fritillaria spp., fritillary
Galanthus nivalis, snowdrop
Hedera helix, common ivy
Helleborus spp., hellebore
Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed
Hyacinthoides non-scripta, bluebell
Hyoscyamus niger, black henbane
Ilex aquifolium, holly
Jacobaea vulgaris, ragwort
Juniperus communis, common juniper
Laburnum anagyroides, laburnum
Lactuca serriola, prickly lettuce
Leucojum aestivum, snowflake
Lithospermum officinale, gromwell
Lolium temulentum, darnel
Malus 'John Downie', crab apple
Mandragora officinarum, mandrake
Mercurialis perennis, dog’s mercury
Narcissus, daffodil
Nepeta faassenii, catmint
Nerium oleander, oleander
Nicotiana sylvestris, tobacco
Oenanthe crocata, hemlock water dropwort
Papaver somniferum, opium poppy
Pastinaca sativa, parsnip
Polygonatum odoratum, angular Solomon's seal
Prunus laurocerasus, cherry laurel
Pulsatilla vulgaris, pasque flower
Ranunculus acris, meadow buttercup
Rheum x hybridum, rhubarb
Rhododendron spp.
Rhus radicans, poison ivy
Ricinus communis, castor oil plant
Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary
Rumex obtusifolius, broad-leaved dock
Ruta graveolens, rue
Salix alba, white willow
Salvia divinorum, sage
Scutellaria laterifolia, Virginian skullcap
Senecio jacobaea, ragwort
Solanum dulcamara, woody nightshade
Solanum melongena, aubergine
Strychnos nux-vomica, poison nut
Symphoricarpos albus, snowberry
Symphytum spp., comfrey
Taxus baccata, yew
Toxicodendron radicans, poison ivy
Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander
Urtica dioica, stinging nettle
Veratrum album, white hellebore
Verbascum olympicum, Greek mullein
Vinca major, greater periwinkle
Viscum album, mistletoe
Vitex agnus-castus, chaste tree