I got pictures of three species of buttercup in Alabama. Only one of them is new to me, and we'll do that first. Actually, my best photo of it is actually a small bee on a blossom. The flower is heavily chewed by something. This is hispid buttercup, Ranunculus hispidus.
Do you know what hispid means? It means hairy- actually stiff hairs. And these stems are very hispid. It makes this buttercup easy to identify. You can see them sticking out along the stem.
The other two are common everywhere, and I've seen both before, but now I have a better idea of how to tell them apart. First is kidneyleaf buttercup, Ranunculus abortivus. It's not very showy. You've probably seen it and didn't even bother to look or know it was there.
I'm sure you are now protesting and saying those leaves aren't kidney shaped at all! Right. However, there is a basal leaf that often withers when the plant is full size, that is shaped like a kidney. It's a definitive feature of this species. Also note the seedhead that's round like a little spiked ball.
Here's Cursed Buttercup or Cursed Crowfoot, Ranunculus sceleratus. Looks really similar, right? However, the seedhead is elongated like a thimble. And if you find the basal leaves, they are lobed, not rounded. Now I think I'll be able to remember the difference.
And why is it cursed? Because the sap can cause skin irritation. This one almost always grows in swampy areas, whereas kidneyleaf will grow in lawns, or almost anywhere.
|See A Cup Full of Sunshine for two other buttercups|
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