Skip to main content
Select Source:

buttercup

buttercup or crowfoot, common name for the Ranunculaceae, a family of chiefly annual or perennial herbs of cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Thought to be one of the most primitive families of dicotyledenous plants, the Ranunculaceae typically have a simple flower structure in which each flower part may be separate rather than fused into a single organ (see flower). Many buttercups are aquatic plants, hence the Latin name for the genus Ranunculus [little frog]. The family includes numerous familiar wildflowers and many cultivated ornamentals. Well-known representatives are the aconite, anemone, baneberry, bugbane, clematis (one of the few vine genera), columbine, globeflower, hellebore, hepatica, larkspur, love-in-a-mist, marsh marigold (the American cowslip), meadow rue, and peony.

The largest genus, Ranunculus, comprises the buttercups and crowfoots, names often used interchangeably. Found throughout arctic, north temperate, and alpine regions, with species in the Andes and in subantarctic areas, this genus is characterized by glossy yellow flowers (hence the name buttercup) and deeply cut leaves (supposedly resembling crows' feet). Like some other members of the family, species of this genus contain an acrid juice that makes them unpalatable for livestock and in some species poisonous. A dozen or more species are common in every part of the United States. Among those cultivated for garden and cut flowers are some double-blossomed Old World species, e.g., the turban, or Persian, buttercup (R. asiaticus), valued for the variety of its colors (all but blue), and the creeping buttercup (R. repens), native to both North America and Europe. The fig buttercup (R. ficaria), or lesser celandine—a name more commonly applied to some plants of the poppy family—is native to W Eurasia. It is considered an invasive plant in North America.

The buttercup family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"buttercup." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup

"buttercup." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup

meadow rue

meadow rue, any plant of the genus Thalictrum of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family). Most are tall perennials (up to 7 ft/2.1 m high) bearing summer flowers with showy, pendent tassels of long stamens, greenish sepals, and no petals. Meadow rues are found in moist, open places throughout northern temperate regions; in the United States they are especially abundant in the Northeast. A few species are cultivated for ornament. The European herb called rue is an unrelated plant. Meadow rue is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"meadow rue." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"meadow rue." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/meadow-rue

"meadow rue." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/meadow-rue

buttercup

but·ter·cup / ˈbətərˌkəp/ • n. a poisonous herbaceous plant (genus Ranunculus) with bright yellow cup-shaped flowers, common in grassland and as a garden weed. The buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) also includes anemones, celandines, aconites, clematises, and hellebores.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"buttercup." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup-0

"buttercup." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup-0

buttercup

buttercup XVII. prob. blending of †butterflower (XVI, after Du. boterbloeme) with goldcup or kingcup.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"buttercup." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup-1

"buttercup." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup-1

buttercup

buttercupcup, grown-up, pup, scup, straight-up, stuck-up, summing-up, sup, totting-up, tup, two-up, up, washing-up •pick-me-up • fry-up • wind-up •round-up • hold-up • backup • markup •check-up •break-up, make-up, shake-up, take-up •teacup •hiccup, pickup, stick-up •link-up •cock-up, lock-up •walk-up •hook-up, lookup •buttercup • snarl-up • pile-up •pull-up • warm-up • clean-up • pin-up •line-up • grown-up •run-up, sun-up, ton-up •turn-up • hang-up • slap-up • zip-up •top-up • chirrup • press-up • piss-up •toss-up •nosh-up, wash-up •punch-up • start-up •let-up, set-up •sit-up • cut-up • rave-up

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"buttercup." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup

"buttercup." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup