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Hairy Buttercup

Ranunculus sardous

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, lawns, roadsides, seaside, waterside.

Yellow, 5 petals
Shiny, pale yellow flowers, paler than the very similar Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus). Just like Bulbous Buttercup, the green sepals of Hairy Buttercup are bent backwards and press against the flower stalk.
A short-beaked nutlet. The beak curves upwards.
An annual flower with palmate leaves. Similar to Bulbous Buttercup but hairier. Both the stems and leaves are very hairy. Bulbous Buttercup has a bulbous stem base at ground level. Hairy Buttercup does not have. The leaves are paler than those of Bulbous Buttercup. Alternate leaves.
Other Names:
Hairy Crowfoot, Rock Buttercup, Sardinian Buttercup.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ranunculus sardous, also known as Sardinian buttercup or rock buttercup, is a species of flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae. It is native to Europe and is commonly found in grassland, meadows, and pastures. R. sardous is a herbaceous annual that grows to a height of up to 30 centimeters. It has long, narrow, green leaves and small, yellow or orange flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant is valued for its ornamental value and is commonly grown in gardens and parks. It is also used as a food source and is an important habitat plant for a variety of wildlife species. R. sardous is known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions and is resistant to pests and diseases. However, it can be toxic to livestock if ingested in large quantities.


Ranunculus sardous, commonly known as Hairy Buttercup, is a wildflower native to Mediterranean region and found throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. It is a hardy and drought-resistant species that can grow in poor soil and can often be found along the roadsides, grasslands and waste areas.

One of the most striking features of Hairy Buttercup is its yellow, cup-shaped flowers that bloom from early spring to late summer. The petals are shiny and have a velvety texture, giving the flower a distinctive look. The plant's leaves are also hairy and deeply divided, making them an interesting addition to any wildflower garden.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, Hairy Buttercup is also a valuable food source for a variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and beetles. It provides nectar for the adult insects and a food source for the larvae. This makes it an important plant for maintaining the biodiversity of an ecosystem and for supporting the food chain.

Hairy Buttercup is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions and digestive problems. The plant's roots contain a toxic substance called Protoanemonin, which can cause skin irritation and digestive problems if ingested in large quantities. However, when used in small doses and properly prepared, it can be a useful herbal remedy.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Hairy Buttercup has also been used for a variety of other purposes throughout history. For example, the plant's roots were once used to produce a yellow dye for clothing, and the stems and leaves were used to make baskets and mats.

However, Hairy Buttercup can also be considered a weed in some areas, especially in crops and pasture land. This is because the plant can produce a large number of seeds that can persist in the soil for several years, making it difficult to control. It is important to be mindful of this when planting Hairy Buttercup, especially in agricultural areas.

Despite its potential as a weed, Hairy Buttercup remains a popular choice for wildflower gardens due to its hardiness, drought resistance, and striking appearance. When grown in the right conditions, it can provide a burst of bright yellow color to your garden and help support local wildlife.

If you are interested in planting Hairy Buttercup in your garden, it is best to sow the seeds in the fall or early spring, and to plant them in well-drained soil in a sunny location. The plant can tolerate some drought once established, but will grow best with regular watering during dry spells. With proper care, Hairy Buttercup can provide years of enjoyment for both you and the local wildlife.

Finally, it's important to note that Hairy Buttercup is considered poisonous to livestock and pets, and can cause serious health problems if ingested in large quantities. As with any wildflower, it is important to be aware of its potential dangers and to take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of your pets and livestock.

One way to mitigate the risk of poisoning is to plant Hairy Buttercup in a fenced area or in a location that is not accessible to livestock and pets. Another option is to plant alternative, non-toxic wildflowers in areas where livestock and pets are present.

In conclusion, while Hairy Buttercup is a fascinating and versatile wildflower, it is important to be mindful of its potential dangers and to take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of your pets and livestock. With careful consideration and proper care, Hairy Buttercup can be a valuable addition to any wildflower garden, providing beauty, diversity, and support for local wildlife.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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