Generally this time of year (early spring) walking around cool damp woods near creeks or streams you might catch a glimpse of a shiny, bright yellow little (about 1inch) flower hidden amongst the old leaves and beginnings of new plant growth. This is more than likely a Swamp Buttercup - Ranunculus septentrionalis (or if it's taller and the stem is covered in bristles, a Bristly Buttercup or Ranunculus hispidus)
Some other common names:
Bachelor Button, Blister Plant, Bristly Buttercup, Butter Daisy, Crazy Weed, Crowfoot, Gold Knot, Hispid Buttercup, Marsh Buttercup, Northern Swamp Buttercup, Pilewort, Rough Buttercup, Spearwort, Swamp Crowfoot, and Three-leaved Buttercup, Three-leaved Crowfoot, Wood Buttercup.
Swamp Buttercup, as well as other members of the Genus Ranunculus, had some folklore associated with this plant. The name of Ranunculus may have also originated from a Libyan boy of that same name. This boy wore green and yellow silk and liked to sing. One day, some wood nymphs got tired of his singing and turned him into a flower.
Buttercups in general had other stories as well. Farmers sometimes rubbed the yellow flowers over the cows’ udders or hung the flowers over their barn doors in hopes of producing golden yellow cream. If a person placed one of the yellow flowers under their smooth chin and it reflected the flower’s glow, then that person loved butter. Some people believed that smelling the flower or placing it next to your neck under a full moon would drive you insane (lucky for us the full moon was a few days ago!).
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.