Pictures of buttercup flowers

Buttercups in Pastures and Hayfields

Hello,

I am David Ridle, Skagit Farmers Supply Country Stores Agricultural Products & Services Consultant. Recently I’ve received several calls regarding Buttercup, Ranunculus sp., in pastures and hayfields. Folks are concerned because Buttercup has multiple impacts, i.e., the plant is both invasive and moderately toxic (more information).

Impacts

Creeping buttercup’s competitive growth crowds out other plants, especially in wet soils. One plant can spread over a 40 square foot area in a year. Creeping buttercup also depletes potassium in the soil and so can have a detrimental effect on surrounding plants. Because creeping buttercup can tolerate heavy, wet soils, it can be a particularly bad problem on well-watered lawns, wet meadows and poorly drained pastures. In addition to invading wet grassy areas, creeping buttercup is reported as a weed of 11 crops in 40 countries.

Fresh buttercup plants are toxic to grazing animals, who can suffer from salivation, skin irritation, blisters, abdominal distress, inflammation, and diarrhea. Fortunately, buttercup has a strong, bitter taste so animals generally try to avoid it if more palatable forage is available. Also, the toxin protoanemonin is not very stable and loses its potency when dry, so buttercup is not generally toxic in hay. Unfortunately, livestock occasionally develop a taste for buttercup and consume fatal quantities. It is safest to keep populations of buttercup under control on grazed pastures and offer plenty of healthy forage.

To get rid of buttercups in your pasture or hayfield is a two step process; spray to kill the existing buttercups and improve the conditions that favor grass production.

  1. For selective control of Buttercup in grassy conditions such as pastures and hayfields, use the herbicide MCP Amine plus an adjuvant (wetting agent) such as Class Act. Spot treat rate is 0.25 pint MCPA to 3-4 gallons of water. Per acre rate is 2-3 pints MCPA. Use 1.25 cups Class Act to three gallons of spray mixture or 2.5 gallons of Class Act to 100 gallons of water. READ AND FOLLOW ALL LABELS. Haying restriction: Do not harvest treated area for hay until 21 days after treatment. Two or three treatments may be necessary to control Buttercup due to weed seed soil bank and the ability of mature plants to recover.
  2. Improve conditions for grass by fertilization, overseeding, liming and not over-grazing. Reduce soil compaction by aerating and avoid trampling when soils are wet. Consider fertilizing during the first half of September, ahead of the fall rains. If the stand is thin, overseeding is best accomplished mid September to mid October with a large seed species such as perennial ryegrass (pastures) or festulolium (pastures and hayfields). Harrow to establish good seed to soil contact. Lime is generally applied in the fall and is added to improve the ability of grass to compete against Buttercup and other weeds such as moss. For best results, soil test every 3-5 years to accurately determine what soil nutrients and amendments are needed.

Following our post about managing morning glory bindweed, one of our readers requested an article on managing buttercup, which has invaded her property.

A well-established patch of Creeping Buttercup. (Image courtesy Barbara Sanderson)

Creeping buttercup is an obnoxious invader that is not a native plant. It loves soggy gardens, which are found in abundance in the Pacific Northwest (and all over North America). Plus, it can withstand seasonal dryness as well. That’s a weed for you — it can adapt and thrive and out-compete other plants readily.

So, how to deal with it?

First, think about the name creeping. That’s exactly what this plant is adapted to do. Once it has taken root in the garden, a single plant has the ability to stretch out stems, which then root in the ground, creating a second plant, and a third, and a…well, you get the idea. It creeps and spreads as it goes, creating a thick, ground cover patch fast.

Single Buttercup Plant (Image Courtesy Barbara Sanderson)

It will invade soggy pond spaces. It will take over lawns. And, it will smother mixed planting beds as it travels.

Since it likes soggy soils, digging it out isn’t always terribly difficult. When soils are moist, they tend to be more loose and pliable, so that’s a good time to work on hand removal.

The combination of two tools for the job makes for relatively quick work. And, if there are two people on the job it goes even more quickly.

Tool #1: Garden Spading Fork like this one: Truper 30293 Tru Tough Spading Fork, 4-Tine, D-Handle, 30-Inch

Tool #2: Hori-Hori or Big Grip Garden Knife like this one from Fiskars, for whom we are paid writers: Fiskars 7079 Big Grip Garden Knife

Once you have these tools, you’re armed to do battle!

Begin by passing through the weed patch with your spading fork. Use the fork to loosen up the soil, but don’t turn everything over. Just shove it into the ground, and then tilt to loosen.

Buttercup Top Growth & Roots Removed (Courtesy Barbara Sanderson)

Then, you (or the second person on your weeding team) follows behind using the garden knife to lift each plant –and any runner plants — from the soil. Don’t just rip the top growth off, or the plant will simply re-grow. Instead, get to the root of the matter and remove it all. Ideally, put what you pull into your off-site yard waste bag rather than on-site compost, where they may root in and begin to spread again.

As with all weeds, try to eradicate them before they flower. Seeds follow flowers, which mean more plants.

Need help dealing with other weeds like dandelion, shotweed, poison hemlock, bindweed, and more? You’ll find more articles here.

Sure, as fun as it may be to pick those shiny yellow flowers to tuck under your chin in the sunlight to see if someone likes butter or not, there are better flirty games to play in the garden. Plus, who doesn’t like butter?

(Disclosure: Garden Mentors® is a paid writer for Fiskars®, however no compensation was paid for this article. Product links above do connect to the Garden Mentors® Amazon Affiliate store.)

Buttercup is a lovely looking flower, though it is generally considered a weed. It’s one you may choose to tolerate if it’s not preventing you from growing other intended plants, as it’s quite difficult to eradicate.

The Botany and Biology of Buttercups

Botanically, buttercups are a type of Ranunculus, but they are different than the types of Ranunculus grown for cut flowers. Buttercups have small, yellow flowers (no more than an inch across) and leaves that are slightly larger, usually separated into three or five sections, each of which is deeply divided.

Common Species

There are many species of buttercup, but the most common species that gardeners will encounter is the creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens). This species grows only two or three inches tall, spreading across the ground with short runners. It is extremely common in lawns in nearly every corner of the country, though it will invade flower beds and shrub plantings as well.

Growing Conditions

It thrives with full sun, ample moisture and rich soil, but is capable of surviving under adverse conditions. The reason is that it stores energy in its fleshy rhizomes, which will survive in less than optimal conditions, such as drought. The leaves may die, but the rhizomes survive several months without leaves and sprout again when conditions improve.

Living With Buttercups

Many gardeners choose to tolerate buttercups and enjoy their profusion of flowers in spring. They commingle with grasses quite well and will certainly not cause a lawn to die out.

Buttercups are most troublesome in beds of annual flowers and vegetables where they compete directly. Around taller perennial plants and shrubbery, however, they can be seen as an attractive groundcover. They will provide a small degree of competition to larger plants, but it may be worth learning to coexist with buttercups rather than attempt the enormous task of eradicating them.

Options for Control

The resilience of buttercups’ tiny rhizomes is what makes them difficult to eradicate. You may spend hours weeding them only to find a few weeks later that they are completely re-established. The rhizomes tend to snap off in the ground when they are pulled, making this form of weeding somewhat futile, especially over large areas.

Small Areas By Hand

In a small area, it’s possible to first loosen the soil with a digging fork and then carefully sift through it with your fingers to remove all the little root pieces. It’s much easier if you approach it this way rather than pulling the tops and then trying to find the roots, as the roots will still be connected to the tops for the most part.

Herbicides

Buttercup can be controlled, but not necessarily eradicated, with the use of herbicides. Buttercups are a major agricultural nuisance and have been sprayed with herbicides for so long that resistant strains have developed in some areas. The plants will be weakened by herbicides, but repeated sprayings are generally necessary to keep the plants from re-establishing.

Given the environmental issues associated with herbicides, constantly spraying the landscape with them is best avoided. Plus, most herbicides will damage any other plants growing in the vicinity.

Tillage

Tilling up an area that is infested with buttercups and allowing the rhizomes to dry out in the sun is a fairly effective method. This works best in the heat of summer during a period when no rain is forecast. Plan to leave the roots exposed on the surface for at least 10 days. The drawback of this method is that the grass or any other plants growing in the vicinity will be destroyed in the process. There will also be seeds in the soil that will sprout once moisture is available again.

Solarization

This is a fairly effective technique, but it takes a bit of persistence. The idea is to cover the infested area with heavy duty black plastic, staking it securely to the ground, and leave it until the rhizomes are essentially starved for energy due to a lack of light for photosynthesis. To be most effective, the plastic should be left in place for an entire growing season. An added benefit of this method is that any seeds stored in the soil will be rendered unviable by the extreme heat that builds up.

Beautiful and Pesky

Whether you’re in the camp that thinks buttercups are a gift from nature to enjoy or you feel they are the bane of your existence, learning a bit more about their biology will help to inform how you choose to manage their presence in the yard. Total eradication is difficult at best, so a combination of tactics is generally the best way to get rid of them, depending on how much they are impacting other plants that you want to grow.

Plant Finder

Buttered Popcorn Buttercup foliage

Buttered Popcorn Buttercup foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 10 inches

Spread: 30 inches

Sunlight:

Hardiness Zone: 2

Other Names: Creeping Buttercup

Description:

This dense creeping groundcover features attractive chartreuse, gold and green-variegated leaves which are even more intense in deeper shade; bright yellow buttercup flowers top it off in spring

Ornamental Features

Buttered Popcorn Buttercup has masses of beautiful yellow round flowers at the ends of the stems in mid spring, which are most effective when planted in groupings. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its attractive serrated lobed leaves remain chartreuse in color with showy yellow variegation and tinges of lime green throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Buttered Popcorn Buttercup is an herbaceous perennial with a ground-hugging habit of growth. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Buttered Popcorn Buttercup is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Bog Gardens

Planting & Growing

Buttered Popcorn Buttercup will grow to be about 8 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 30 inches. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense right to the ground. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 5 years.

This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in moist to wet soil, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

Beware Too Many Buttercups In Horse Pastures

Buttercup (Ranunculus spp.), a bright yellow annual, biennial, or perennial flower found in pastures, can cause serious problems in horses that eat it as they graze. The leaves and stems of many species of buttercup contain ranunculin, a glycoside that forms the toxic blistering agent protoanemonin when the plant is chewed or crushed. This bitter-tasting oil irritates the lining of the horse’s mouth and digestive tract. Owners may notice blisters on the horse’s lips, swelling of facial tissue, excessive salivation, mild colic, and diarrhea that might contain blood. Decreased appetite and a slowed pulse may also be present. In severe cases, buttercup ingestion can lead to skin twitching, paralysis, convulsions, and death. Affected horses can display hemorrhaging and congestion in the lungs on postmortem examination. Cattle, goats, and pigs are also susceptible to the toxin.

Buttercups are commonly found throughout North America. The plant grows best in wet soils and can thrive in heavy clay and damp sand or gravel. As well as pastures, buttercup inhabits woody areas, marshes, ditch banks, and swampy meadows. It is rarely encountered on light, well-drained soil.

Horses usually avoid ingesting the bitter leaves, but when turned out on overgrazed pasture, they may eat buttercups due to an absence of other forage. Unusually wet weather favors the spread of buttercups in regions where they are not usually prevalent, and an overgrowth in pastures may lead to accidental ingestion because the plant can’t be avoided by grazing animals. Cool, wet weather also encourages the growth of desirable cool-season forages, so unless pastures are seriously overgrazed, horses should normally be able to find enough nourishment without being forced to consume buttercups.

Toxicity varies with plant age, growing conditions, and freshness of foliage. Plants are most dangerous in early growth through the flowering stage (April to August for various species). Hay containing dried buttercup foliage is not thought to be harmful because the toxic oil evaporates quickly after the plants are cut. Buttercup seeds contained in hay can fall to the ground, allowing the plants to become established in new areas.

The genus Ranunculus includes about 2000 species, of which more than 20 are found in North America. Appearance and growth habits vary, with some plants hugging the ground and others reaching a height of two feet or taller. Buttercups can have either regular or irregular flowers with three to fifteen sepals and zero to 23 actual petals; most flowers are bright yellow with a waxy appearance, though some are red, orange, or white with yellow centers. Stems are generally hairless and leaves are often deeply divided into three lobes. Some species of buttercup don’t resemble the classic yellow-flowered variety, while several harmless weeds are somewhat similar in appearance. Horse owners who are not sure how to identify buttercup in their fields should ask the local agricultural extension agent for assistance. The agent can also suggest the control method (tilling, spraying) that will be most effective in ridding pastures of buttercup. Unchecked, buttercup can crowd out other plants, spreading to cover as much as 40 square feet of ground in a year. Creeping buttercup also depletes potassium in the soil, making this nutrient less available to surrounding plants.

Cattle and possibly other livestock occasionally develop a taste for buttercup, consuming it with fatal consequence in preference to other available forage. For this reason, it is safest to keep populations of buttercup under control on grazed pastures and offer plenty of healthy forage. Farm managers can discourage invasions of dangerous plants by following a sound pasture management program. A healthy growth of desirable grasses and legumes can be supported by regular soil testing, liming, and fertilizing combined with good grazing management and mowing.

Article reprinted courtesy of Kentucky Equine Research (KER). Visit equinews.com for the latest in equine nutrition and management, and subscribe to The Weekly Feed to receive these articles directly (equinews.com/newsletters).

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This entry was posted in Nutrition and tagged buttercup toxicity, buttercups, buttercups and horses, horse racing and breeding, pasture management, poisonous plants, toxic plants horses by Kentucky Equine Research. Bookmark the permalink.

Creeping buttercup

Botanical name: Ranunculus repens
Family name: Ranunculaceae

Buttercup species are tolerant of wet soil conditions, and so are often found in soils that are poorly drained. Creeping buttercup is the only buttercup species commonly found in New Zealand which has a stolon system. As with white clover, the stolon system allows creeping buttercup to spread laterally quite quickly into nearby weed-free areas. It is frequently found in poorly drained lawns, pastures, waste areas and orchards, and also sometimes in crops and gardens. It often becomes quite troublesome in pastures grazed by cattle or horses, as they tend to avoid grazing the weed, unlike sheep.

Distinguishing features

As with white clover, the leaves of creeping buttercup are composed of three leaflets, though these leaflets are much different in shape to those of clovers (see picture). The central leaflet tends to have a longer stalk than the other two leaflets, whereas the leaf of giant buttercup (another very common buttercup) does not have leaves divided up in this way. Although the stolons are a distinguishing feature of creeping buttercup, they often disappear over winter making creeping buttercup difficult to differentiate from a very similar looking annual weed called hairy buttercup. In spring and summer, it has the typical buttercup flower with shiny yellow petals.

Control

Creeping buttercup is commonly found in the herbicide strips of orchards and in waste places because it is tolerant of amitrole, simazine and low rates of glyphosate, all chemicals commonly used in orchards and waste places. Its growth form makes it tolerant of mowing too, so it grows in the mown grass strips between rows of trees, and grows laterally into the sprayed strip, as does white clover. Rates of glufosinate or glyphosate that are not too low can give reasonable control in orchards, as can residual herbicides based around diuron. In pastures, either MCPA or flumetsulam can be used to remove it, and most turf herbicides kill it successfully in lawns, especially those based on MCPA. In recent research conducted at Massey University, we found that simply ploughing a paddock with no use of herbicide to regrass a paddock does not kill this species very well at all. Even after secondary cultivation to prepare a good seed-bed, buttercup leaves are often the first foliage that pop up in the new pasture from old stolons that haven’t died, and creeping buttercup will be worse in a new pasture than the former pasture following regrassing without herbicide assistance. So use of reasonable rates of glyphosate to assist with killing the old pasture will help prevent this happening, and MCPB or flumetsulam in the new pastures will kill off seedlings before they get too established and set up the next population of creeping buttercup.

Buttercup Leaves Stock Photos and Images

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  • Creeping buttercup leaves, close up view, uk
  • Creeping Buttercup leaves (Ranunculus repens) covered in a sheet of ice except for one
  • Frosted buttercup leaves and leaf litter, Burnaby Lake Regional Park, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  • Turnera ulmifolia. Yellow Alder flower in India
  • Two tiered tropical wedding cake with fondant, tropical wafer paper leaves and flamingos with ranunculus flowers on golden cale platter
  • creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), leaves, Germany
  • Creeping Buttercup Leaves in Springtime
  • Leaves foliage of Creeping Buttercup / Ranunculus repens growing around a stone. Menace to gardeners and farmers alike.
  • Frost on grass and buttercup leaves
  • Kriechender Hahnenfuß, Hahnenfuss, Ranunculus repens, Creeping Buttercup, La renoncule rampante. Blatt, Blätter, leaf, leaves
  • Buttercups in the sun after a rain shower,
  • Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) seedling cotyledons and four true leaves
  • Oxalis pes-caprae (Bermuda buttercup)
  • Close up of vibrant yellow buttercup squash flower surrounded by bright green leaves with a tendril peaking out.
  • Orange Peel Fungus – Aleuria aurantia Among Buttercup Leaves
  • Common buttercup or Ranunculus acris bunch of small yellow flowers with five petals and small dark green leaves on green and dried leaves background
  • Grassy-leaved Buttercup, Gräsranunkel (Ranunculus gramineus var phoeniceus)
  • Yellow Creeping Buttercup Flowers, Ranunculus repens, shimmering in the summer sun on natural green grass background.
  • Feminine wedding, birthday desktop mock-ups. Blank greeting cards, envelope. Eucalyptus branches, pink cherry tree blossoms and Persian buttercup flowers. White table background. Flat lay, top view.
  • Leaf of Meadow Buttercup, Ranunculus acris, wildflower
  • Mating 14-spot Ladybirds (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata) on creeping buttercup leaves. Tipperary, Ireland
  • Green clover meadow. Field of Bermuda buttercup, Oxalis pes-caprae, with heart-shaped leaves, a flowering plant and evergreen in wood sorrel family.
  • Monkshood (aconitum delphinifolium, buttercup, ranunculaceae), poisonous plant, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA
  • Two tiered tropical wedding cake with fondant, tropical wafer paper leaves and flamingos with ranunculus flowers on wooden cake stand
  • creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), leaves, Germany
  • Creeping Buttercup Leaves in Springtime
  • Ice crystals formed on the hairs of buttercup plant. Frosty relations concept, frosty leaves, frost covered leaves.
  • Frost on grass and buttercup leaves
  • Kriechender Hahnenfuß, Hahnenfuss, Ranunculus repens, Creeping Buttercup, La renoncule rampante. Blatt, Blätter, leaf, leaves
  • Goldilocks Buttercup – Ranunculus auricomus
  • Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) seedling cotyledons only
  • Buttercup, Sassnitz, Rügen
  • Wild buttercup at East Chezzetcook Nova Scotia
  • Yellow buttercup flowers in Norfolk Broads in spring.
  • Single buttercup growing from a bed of geranium leaves Killin Perthshire Scotland UK
  • Grassy-leaved Buttercup, Gräsranunkel (Ranunculus gramineus var phoeniceus)
  • Blooming flower of yellow Caltha (buttercup) with green leaves blurry background, close up detail top view
  • Feminine wedding, birthday desktop mock-up scene. Blank paper greeting card and bouquet of eucalyptus branches, pink roses and Persian buttercup flowers. White table background. Flat lay, top view.
  • soft and romantic purple anemone flower head on white fine art photography Jane Ann Butler Photography JABP531
  • Tree in full summer leaf standing in a grassy meadow full of yellow buttercups at Coate Water Country Park, Wiltshire, England
  • Green clover surface, close-up from above. Field of Bermuda buttercup, Oxalis pes-caprae, with heart-shaped leaves, a flowering plant and evergreen.
  • Monkshood (aconitum delphinifolium, buttercup, ranunculaceae), poisonous plant, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA
  • Two tiered tropical wedding cake with fondant, tropical wafer paper leaves and flamingos with ranunculus flowers on golden cale platter
  • creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), ground leaves, Germany
  • soft and romantic anemone still life on white fine art photography Jane Ann Butler Photography JABP529
  • Lesser celandine, Ficaria verna growing in grass showing the yellow flowers and heart shaped foliage
  • Hepatica leaves (Hepatica nobilis)
  • Scharfer Hahnenfuß, Scharfer Hahnenfuss, Blatt, Ranunculus acris, Synonym: Ranunculus acer, meadow buttercup, tall buttercup, giant buttercup
  • Meadow Buttercup – Ranunculus acris
  • Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris) seedling cotyledons only
  • soft and romantic purple anemone flower head on white fine art photography Jane Ann Butler Photography JABP530
  • English buttercup in a garden at East Chezzetcook Nova Scotia
  • dramatic shot of a white anemone centre Jane Ann Butler Photography JABP383
  • Detail of a bright yellow flower and green leaves of a creeping buttercup plant.
  • soft and romantic purple anemone flower head on lilac fine art photography Jane Ann Butler Photography JABP532
  • Ranunculus Flower or Persian buttercup, Ranunculus asiaticus
  • Feminine wedding, birthday desktop mock-ups. Blank greeting card with seal, ribbon and envelope. Eucalyptus branches, pink cherry tree blossoms and Persian buttercup flower. White table background. Flat lay, top view.
  • Blooming flower of yellow Caltha (buttercup) with green leaves blurry background, close up detail
  • Ranunculus asiaticus, Persian buttercup, perennial ornamental herb, with 3-lobed lower leaves, double flowers on stalks
  • Natural rustic background with fresh young greenery of fern leaves and yellow flowers of paigle or buttercup on a wooden wall or fence backdrop
  • Monkshood (aconitum delphinifolium, buttercup, ranunculaceae), poisonous plant, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA
  • Kniphofia Early Buttercup
  • tall buttercup, upright meadow crowfoot (Ranunculus acris), leaves, Germany
  • Bee on Oxalis pes-caprae (Bermuda buttercup)
  • Pasque flower pulsatilla vulgaris growing on the chiltern hills Bucks
  • Golden yellow flower of Ranuculus lappaceus, common buttercup, and Australian wildflower, against a dark background
  • Scharfer Hahnenfuß, Scharfer Hahnenfuss, Blatt, Ranunculus acris, Synonym: Ranunculus acer, meadow buttercup, tall buttercup, giant buttercup
  • Meadow Buttercup – Ranunculus acris
  • Field buttercup, Ranunculuis acris, flowers among grassland, Berkshire, June
  • whole delphinium plant isolated on white background
  • English buttercup in a garden at East Chezzetcook Nova Scotia
  • Lupine leaves with raindrops and buttercup, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • A beautiful purple lupine flower grows among its huge leaves next to the yellow Buttercup flowers, illuminated by sunlight.
  • Detailed fine art still life color macro of three generations of red buttercup blossoms with green stem and leaves on black background
  • dandelions
  • Ice crystals formed on the hairs of buttercup plant. Bitter autumn weather. Frosty relations concept, frosty leaves, frost covered leaves.
  • Blooming flowers of yellow Caltha (buttercup) with green leaves blurry background, close up detail
  • Flowers among fallen leaves
  • Slovenian alpine buttercup flower
  • Monkshood (aconitum delphinifolium, buttercup, ranunculaceae), poisonous plant, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA
  • Common Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) flowers in a Tennessee during spring
  • Larkspur, or Delphinium, or Spur (lat. Delphinium) is a genus of one-and perennial herbaceous plants of the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Includes
  • The Yellow flowers of the Creeping Buttercup flower (Ranunculus repens)
  • Buttercup, Ranunculus spruneranus, Ranunculaceae. Greece, Mediterranean, South East Europe.
  • A drift of bright yellow buttercup flowers (Ranunculus) amongst green leafy foliage in May, Scotland, UK
  • Scharfer Hahnenfuß, Scharfer Hahnenfuss, Blatt, Ranunculus acris, Synonym: Ranunculus acer, meadow buttercup, tall buttercup, giant buttercup
  • Meadow Buttercup – Ranunculus acris – Goring meadow, Berkshire
  • Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) seedling cotyledons and one true leaf
  • Ranunculus or Buttercup flower is a perennial plant usually flowering in the spring and sometimes in the summer.
  • Frosted western buttercup leaves push through leaf litter
  • Goldilocks buttercup (Ranunculus auricomus agg.). Plant of moist woodland in the family Ranunculaceae, with many yellow flowers
  • Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) close-up. Common invasive weed.
  • Fine art still life colorful macro of a yellow green pink orange buttercup bouquet with blossoms,buds and leaves on black background
  • Ranunculus ficaria
  • Yellow butter cup looking flowers on a bush
  • Blooming flowers of yellow Caltha (buttercup) with green leaves in the background, close up detail
  • Buttercup
  • Buttercup, flowering, detail, Ranunculus
  • Anemone multifida; buttercup; cutleaf anemone; globe anemone; wildflowers north of El Chalten; Patagonia; Argentina
  • a few yellow-flowered buttercup closeup

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Buttercup Control: How To Kill Unwanted Buttercup Weeds In Your Garden

The cheery yellow flowers of the Buttercup are actually quite pretty, but the Buttercup has an insidious nature, and will insert itself craftily into your landscape. The plant can be very difficult to control due to its habit of rooting at internodes and the long spidery roots that can re-sprout a new plant if left in the ground. Controlling buttercup weeds is important in livestock areas, where the plant is toxic, but also in the home garden unless you like a tumble of interlocked foliage covering up your chosen specimens.

Buttercup Weed Information

Creeping buttercup is in the Ranunculus family and known for its lovely flowers. However, buttercup is considered by many to be a weed due to its invasive and prolific nature. Buttercup control is particularly difficult in large scale infestations unless you wish to resort to an herbicide. Chemical control is one option, but there may be better ways to minimize the plant’s impact on your landscape.

The saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” may have the sting of truth in regards to buttercup. The plant would make a pretty picture gamboling over the landscape with its bright sunny yellow flowers and attractive lobed foliage, but grower be aware. One of the most

important tidbits of buttercup weed information regards its rampant growth habit.

Not only do the plants seed like rabbits breed, but the creeping stems root and take hold as the plant scrabbles over soil. Each newly rooted spot is a new plant. Add to that that, the plant can reestablish itself with just a root or stem fragment and you probably get the picture that removal of the weed is going to be a challenge.

Controlling Buttercup Weeds Naturally

Minimizing the use of herbicides in the landscape is environmentally responsible and healthier for us and our planet. A plant like buttercup grows low to the ground so common measures, such as mowing, will not touch the weed. In addition, hoeing or rototilling is not effective, as it leaves behind small bits of plant matter that can grow anew.

Hand pulling is possible in small infestations, but you must use a tool designed to remove deep roots and get every bit of the weed. Wear protective clothing when handling the plants too, as the sap can seriously irritate the skin.

There are no known biological controls at this time to kill buttercup weeds. Changing the growing conditions in an area is one way to minimize the growth of the plant. Buttercup likes nutrient poor, compact soil with a low pH. Lower the acidity of soil, increase percolation and fertilize for cultural buttercup control.

Kill Buttercup Weeds Chemically

Once you have tried all the steps above to kill buttercup weeds, and only if they are still persistent, it is time to consider chemical warfare. Broadleaf formulas have some effectiveness against the pests. Glyphosate works well for spot control, but because it can kill any vegetation that comes in contact with the formula, it must be used carefully.

Selective control formulas target specific plant pests. An herbicide with aminopyralid is safe to use around grass and livestock. It has a low hazard rating for mobility and persistence in soil. To treat 1,000 square feet, mix 1 teaspoon with 2 gallons of water and spray onto the affected area. Use protective clothing and follow the application directions for any herbicide.

Once you get a handle on the weed, be vigilant and attack the problem at the first signs of recurrence.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and much more environmentally friendly.

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