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 Ranunculus subsp. var.  Buttercup, Crowfoot
Habit: bulbous
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial, annual, biennial
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Ranunculaceae > Ranunculus var. ,

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Ranunculus (Latin name for a little frog; applied to the genus by Pliny in allusion to the wet places in which many of the species grow). Including Batrachium and Ficaria. Ranunculaceae. Buttercup. Crowfoot. Annual and perennial herbs, a number of which are grown in the garden and sometimes in the greenhouse for their showy flowers. Most of the species are hardy perennials, some of them aquatic.

Leaves entire or dissected; cauline lvs. alternate, often few: fls. white, yellow or red, terminal, solitary or panicled, rarely sessile at the branch axils; sepals 3-5, caducous; petals all or most (up to 15) provided with a honey-bearing pit or an enlarged conspicuous or rarely minute scale; stamens shorter than the sepals and petals, frequently numerous, sometimes only few in small-fld. species; carpels numerous, 1-ovuled: achenes compressed or subglobose, smooth or variously striate, costate, rugose, or spiny.—About 300 species dispersed all over the world, mostly in the temperate and colder regions, few in the tropics. The structure and arrangement of the achenes is well shown in Fig. 3340,

Culture of the ranunculuses. (E. J. Canning.)

The culture of ranunculuses in gardens and by florists has been confined chiefly to the Persian and Turban ranunculus, R. asiaticus, since the Asiatic species is far more attractive than the European. In England and in other European gardens, R. asiaticus has been in cul- tivatior a very long time. Parkinson mentions it in his Paradisus, published in 1629. He termed it "the double-red crowfoot of Asia." Since his time R. asiati- cus and its varieties have been greatly improved, both in size of flowers and variety of colors. The flowers are very double, almost globular in outline, and often exceed 2 inches in diameter, while the colors now embrace almost every shade except blue, and some are striped and variegated. A well-grown mass of these charming flowers when in full blossom is a sight not soon forgotten. They are not so well known in American gardens as in those of England or at least not in the eastern states, since the writer has rarely met with them or seldom seen any reference to them in the horticultural periodicals. They are not adapted to either spring or summer bedding. Their season of blossoming in this country is about the last week in May and the first week in June, which is too late for spring bedding, while the season of blossoming is too short for summer bedding. Therefore a position should be given them in the herbaceous border where they will receive some shade during the warmer parts of the day, or a level place in a rock-garden with a northern aspect. The roots are tuberous, being like miniature dahlia roots. They are not hardy, at least not in any of the northern states. The tubers should be carefully lifted after the foliage has all "ripened off" (which occurs usually toward the end of August), and stored until the following spring in some cool shed where they will not freeze. They should be planted as soon as the frost is well out of the ground in spring, about 2 inches in depth and about 6 inches apart, making the soil very sandy on top so that the leaves will push through readily without heaving the soil. Like their congeners the European ranunculi, they like plenty of moisture at the roots during the growing season, and if they can be shaded from the sun when in flower their blossoming period will be materially lengthened. They may also be grown for flowering in the greenhouse. The gardener may well have a few pans each year, planting the roots in pans of light soil toward the end of January and placing them in the coolest greenhouse, where they will blossom toward the middle of April. He will probably prefer the Turban varieties, since they are stronger-growing and rather larger than the Persian. The species may be propagated by seeds, but this process is not worth while because the bulbs may be procured so cheaply.—Of the native and European species of ranunculus, those of the Batrachium section, such as R. aquatilis and its varieties, are interesting aquatic plants, while R. repens var. flore-pleno, and R. amplexicaulis are useful as subjects for the bog-garden.—For herbaceous borders or moist corners in the rock-garden R. aconitifolius var. flore-pleno, R. cortusaefolius, R. anemonoides, R. parnas sifolius, and R. Ficaria are the only species worth growing. These are readily propagated from seeds or by division of the plants in spring. See the supplementary list, p. 2909, for some of these.


acer, 26.Fioaria, 1.nyssanus, 4. aconitifolius, 11.flore-pleno, 1, 11, 20,ochroleucus, 1. acris, 26. 21, 26, 27.orientalis, 7. africanus, 7.fluitans, 2.orthorhynchus, 6. alpestris, 12.glacialis, 9.palaestinus, 28. amplexicaulis, 14.gramineus, 18.parnassifolius, 16. anemonefolius, 29.grandiflorus, 1, 19.platyphyllus, 6. asiaticus, 7.hederaceus, 3.plenus, 11, 21, 24. atrococcineus, 28.insignis, 17.polyanthemos, 24. bulbosus, 21.lanuginosus, 27.psilostachys, 4. californicus, 25.lingua, 19.pyrenaeus, 15. carpaticus, 23.luteo-plenus, 11.pyrenaicus, 15. constantinopolitanus, 28.Matthewaii, 10.repens, 20. cortusaefolius, 8.maximus, 6.rutaefolis, 13. dentatus, 23.monspeliacus, 5.speciosus, 21. Enysii, 22.montanus, 23.superbissimus, 7.

Key to the Species.

R. adoneus. Gray, 4—12 in.: shaggy-hairy: sts. more or less decumbent: fls. golden yellow. Colo.—R. anemonoides, Zahl., 6 in.:fls. white or tinged rose. Austria. Gn. 22:252. J.H. III. 54:345. —R. aquatilis, Linn., sometimes called lodewort, ram's foot, etc., is an interesting aquatic plant common in temperate regions, the floating lvs. often broad and 3-lobed, while the submerged lvs. are cut up into numerous thread-like segms.—R. Arendsii, Hort. (R. amplexicaulis X R. gramineus), has fls. of a soft shade of butter- yellow, fading white, and likes partial shade and a moist situation, according to trade-lists.—R. bullatus, Linn., is a yellow-fld, species offered in single and double forms by Dutch bulb-dealers. Medit. region.—R. cardiophyllus, Hook., offered in Colo, in 1900, is considered by Gray as R. affinis var. validus. It is an American species pictured in B.M. 2999 with yellow fls. 1 1/4 in. across.—R. fascicu- laris, Muhl. Height 1 ft, June. N. Amer. Mn. 2:1.—R. Lyallii, Hook, f., the New Zealand water-lily, grows 2-4 ft. high, has peltate lvs. and waxy white fls. 4 in. across, borne in many-fld, panicles. In Eu. it is considered a cool greenhouse plant. It is a gorgeous species and ought to succeed somewhere in N. Amer. G.C. II. 15:724; 23:371; III. 51:suppl. June 29. Gn. 67, p. 23; 74, p. 379.— R. pedatus, Waldst. & Kit., a native of the Hungarian Alps, has yellow fls. nearly an inch across.—R. septentrionalis, Poir., has been listed; a native plant allied to R. repens.—-R. spectabilis ple- nus, Hort., has been offered as a dwarf plant with double shining yellow fls. This species is unknown botanically.—R. spicatus, Desf., is figured in B.M. 4585 with showy 5-petaled yellow fls. fully 2 in. across. It is an Algerian species but is said to be perfectly hardy in England and of easy cult, in any good garden soil. J.F. 2:148.—R. Suksidorfii. Gray. 4-10 in.: st. slender, 1-3-fld.: fls. deep yellow. Mountains Wash., Ore. and Mont.—R. superbissimus, Hort., is used in some catalogues for the double French ranunculi, known also as R. asiaticus var. superbissimus (No. 7).—R. viridi- florus, Hort. Van Tubergen, is a scarlet-and-green-fld. variety of the Turban class of R. asiaticus.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

An extremely varied genus of about 400 annuals, biennials and occasionally evergreen perennials.


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  • American Horticultural Society: A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, by Christopher Brickell, Judith D. Zuk. 1996. ISBN 0789419432

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