Thursday, March 4, 2010

Plant of the Week: Buttercups


Perhaps it's best to think of Ranunculus californicus as a healthy alternative to the mustard you see blooming in open fields.  Mustard is lovely this time of year, but it has a tendency to run rampant and choke out most of everything else.  Too much of a good thing, in my opinion.  Buttercups, however wave little yellow fairy wands through the emerging grasses, a little here, a little there.  Nothing says meadow better than a smattering of Buttercups!  We found them on the road to Borges Ranch, a delightful farm to visit this time of year.  


Soil:  Believe it or not... Clay!  Glorious clay!
Sun:  Full sun to part shade
Plant:  In the Fall, before it emerges from its Summer nap or now if you can't help yourself!
Buy it:  Annie's Annuals, Oaktown Native Nursery in Alameda, or Native Here might have a few, but this note was what came up on their catalog page.  I'm sure you'd come home with something!
Good for:  Stubborn clay soils where you'd like a little meadow, wildlife gardens (the seeds are edible!), a mustard alternative, viewing far away and close up


  1. I did plant some a month ago, and they are just holding their own. They are a bit exposed where they are - I need to plant a few more bunch grasses around them. I love buttercups! though I'm more used to the ones I saw in the UK as a child. Hold the flower under your chin, and if you see yellow on your chin (reflected light), it means you like butter.

  2. Adorable! But really... who doesn't like butter?!

  3. I love the sight of cheerful Ranunculus in early spring (really late-winter, but who's paying attention!).

    I grow Chris. Lloyd's dark-leaved Brazen Hussey, my fave,
    and the variety, 'Buttered Popcorn' (species escapes me at the moment and I'm too tired to look it up:^]
    Anyway....for years it did little to nothing, except not to die. Although I knew it could be invasive, it's only this past year that it has threatened to dominate.

    Bottom line, I should be growing the native!
    ((And I love looking at the mustard despite it's invasive aspects, but then, it hasn't invaded my garden. xoxxoxo Alice
    & Finally! if you haven't visited yet, please check out my web site - it's up & running and even on Blotanical.

  4. What a wonderful alternative to mustard. I love the yellow flowers and anything that can grow in clay soil (like we have) is a winner in my book :^)

  5. I had no idea the seeds were edible (well a spice anyway). Have you tried them? I'm very curious now. And they are really beautiful little flowers.

  6. I've been too busy enjoying my plant to attempt to eat it, but I should try it someday! I agree that it's a great little plant. I planted a couple many years ago and they reseeded themselves lightly around the garden--nothing obnoxious. I still have one reliable plant, 15+ years later, though now it's not reseeding anymore. I wonder if it needs two to be fertile?

  7. WAIT! Don't eat it yet! Looked it up after Brad's query and found that the entire plant is poisonous unless the roots or seeds are boiled twice, changing the water each time. Still can't figure out what it tastes like, but please take all precautions before eating it!!

  8. We had a single blooming buttercup in a pot when we did the Native Plant booth at last years flower and garden show. Everyone wanted to know what this amazing delicate flower was.

    It really looks great in a pot!