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. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup

"buttercup." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

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. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"meadow rue." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/meadow-rue

"meadow rue." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/meadow-rue

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

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. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup-0

"buttercup." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

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. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup-1

"buttercup." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

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. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup

"buttercup." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buttercup

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

buttercup

buttercup Herbaceous flowering plant found worldwide; the many species vary considerably according to habitat, but usually have yellow or white flowers and deeply-cut leaves. Family Ranunculaceae; genus Ranunculus.

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

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"buttercup." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buttercup." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup

"buttercup." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Buttercup

Buttercup

Buttercups and crowfoots are about 275 species of plants in the genus Ranunculus, family Ranunculaceae. Buttercups mostly occur in cool and temperate regions of both hemispheres of the world, including mountains in tropical latitudes.

Buttercups are annual or perennial, and they are herbaceous plants, dying back to the ground surface before the winter. The leaves of terrestrial species are simple or compound. However, the underwater leaves of aquatic buttercups can be very finely divided. Some

of the aquatic buttercups have dimorphic foliage, with delicately divided leaves in the water, and distinctly broader leaves in the atmosphere.

The flowers of buttercups have numerous stamens and pistils, arranged in a spiral fashion on a central axis. The flowers of most species of buttercups are radially symmetric and showy, owing to their large, yellow petals. However, some species have red or white petals. The petals secrete nectar, important in attracting the insects that are the pollinators of most buttercups. There are usually five sepals, but these generally fall off the flower relatively soon. The fruits are loose heads of one-seeded fruits called achenes.

Many species of buttercups are native to North America. The wood buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus ) is a widespread species of rich, temperate forests. The yellow water-crowfoot (R. gmelini ) is a widespread species of freshwater marshes and shores, while the seashore-buttercup (R. cymbalaria ) occurs in salt marshes and estuaries. Many native species of buttercups occur in alpine and arctic tundras, for example, the Lapland buttercup (R. lapponicus ) and snow buttercup (R. nivalis ).

Several species of Eurasian buttercups have been introduced to North America where they have become widespread weeds of lawns, fields, and other disturbed places. Some of the more familiar introduced species are the tall or meadow buttercup (R. acris ), the creeping buttercup (R. repens ), and the corn crowfoot or hunger-weed (R. arvensis ).

A few species of buttercups are used in horticulture. The most commonly used species for this purpose is the garden buttercup (R. asiaticus ), available in varieties with white, red, or yellow-colored flowers. Aquatic buttercups, such as the water crowfoot (R. aquatilis ), are sometimes cultivated in garden pools. Various alpine species of buttercups can be planted in rock gardens.

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

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Buttercup." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Buttercup." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup

"Buttercup." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Buttercup

Buttercup

Buttercups and crowfoots are about 275 species of plants in the genus Ranunculus, family Ranunculaceae. Buttercups mostly occur in cool and temperate regions of both hemispheres of the world, including mountains in tropical latitudes.

Buttercups are annual or perennial, and they are herbaceous plants, dying back to the ground surface before the winter. The leaves of terrestrial species are simple or compound. However, the underwater leaves of aquatic buttercups can be very finely divided. Some of the aquatic buttercups have dimorphic foliage, with delicately divided leaves in the water , and distinctly broader leaves in the atmosphere.

The flowers of buttercups have numerous stamens and pistils, arranged in a spiral fashion on a central axis. The flowers of most species of buttercups are radially symmetric and showy, owing to their large, yellow petals. However, some species have red or white petals. The petals secrete nectar , important in attracting the insects that are the pollinators of most buttercups. There are usually five sepals, but these generally fall off the flower relatively soon. The fruits are loose heads of one-seeded fruits called achenes.

Many species of buttercups are native to North America . The wood buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus) is a widespread species of rich, temperate forests . The yellow water-crowfoot (R. gmelini) is a widespread species of freshwater marshes and shores, while the seashore-buttercup (R. cymbalaria) occurs in salt marshes and estuaries. Many native species of buttercups occur in alpine and arctic tundras, for example, the Lapland buttercup (R. lapponicus) and snow buttercup (R. nivalis).

Several species of Eurasian buttercups have been introduced to North America where they have become widespread weeds of lawns, fields, and other disturbed places. Some of the more familiar introduced species are the tall or meadow buttercup (R. acris), the creeping buttercup (R. repens), and the corn crowfoot or hunger-weed (R. arvensis).

A few species of buttercups are used in horticulture . The most commonly used species for this purpose is the garden buttercup (R. asiaticus), available in varieties with white, red, or yellow-colored flowers. Aquatic buttercups, such as the water crowfoot (R. aquatilis), are sometimes cultivated in garden pools. Various alpine species of buttercups can be planted in rock gardens.

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

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Buttercup." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Buttercup." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup-0

"Buttercup." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buttercup-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.