The Ranunculus, native to southwest Asia and southeast Europe, is a flower celebrated for its medicinal properties as well as its bright beauty. Although Ranunculus, Latin for “little frog,” is its scientific name, it is also known as the Buttercup. This name stems from the fact that many species of Ranunculus can be found near water, like frogs. All species are poisonous when eaten fresh by cattle, horses, and other livestock. However, they have an acrid taste and cause blistering in the mouth, which usually deters animals from eating it. In some cases, Ranunculus has also been known to cause dermatitis when handled by humans.
Several major legends are associated with this striking flower. In the Pacific Northwest United States, they are called “Coyote’s Eyes.” The legend states that a coyote would toss his eyes up in the air for fun. One day he tossed his eyes to high and an eagle snatched them up. Unable to see, the coyote grabbed two Buttercups and made eyes out of them.
Another myth that surrounds the ranunculus involves an Asian prince. He was well loved and enjoyed taking walks in the open country where he would sing to the nymphs. He fell in love with one nymph, but sadly was unable to express his feelings. He withered and died from disappointment. Upon his death, his body began to transform into the shape of a small, delicately pedaled flower.
Giving a bouquet of Buttercups suggest that the recipient dazzles the giver. They are especially given on romantic holidays and have become very popular with spring brides. Colors can range from white to pink, red to yellow, as well as orange.