Open the Advanced Search

Meadow Buttercup

Ranunculus acris

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:
1 metre tall
Ditches, fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, parks, riversides, roadsides, towns, wasteland, wetland, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
5 glossy yellow petals on furrowed stalks, up to 2.5cm wide and with spreading sepals.
A cluster of achenes, no larger than half a centimetre across.
The palmate leaves are variable but have 3 to 7 deeply cut lobes. The end lobe is unstalked.
No fragrance.
Other Names:
Blister Plant, Butter Cress, Butter Daisy, Butter Flower, Butterrose, Common Buttercup, Common Crowflower, Common Crowfoot, Crazy Weed, Cuckooflower, Giant Buttercup, Gold Balls, Gold Cup, Gold Knobs, Gold Knots, Horse Gold, Kingcups, Meadow Ranunculus, Showy Buttercup, Tall Buttercup, Tall Crowfoot, Tall Field Buttercup, Upright Crowfoot, Upright Meadow Crowfoot, Water Milfoil, Yellow Gowan.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Ranunculus acris, also known as tall buttercup or meadow 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. acris is a herbaceous perennial that grows to a height of up to 1 meter. 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. acris 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.


Meadow buttercups, also known as Ranunculus acris, are a beautiful and common wildflower found in meadows, pastures, and grasslands throughout Europe and North America. These flowers are known for their bright yellow petals and distinctive, buttery texture.

One of the most striking features of meadow buttercups is their bright yellow color. The petals of the flower are a vibrant shade of yellow, making them stand out in any field or meadow. The petals are also glossy and slightly curved, giving the flowers a delicate and graceful appearance.

The foliage of meadow buttercups is also noteworthy. The leaves are long, narrow, and glossy, and are arranged in a rosette at the base of the stem. They are a deep green color and are slightly hairy, giving them a soft texture. The leaves are also slightly bitter, which can make them unappealing to grazing animals.

Meadow buttercups are also known for their unique reproductive system. The flowers are hermaphroditic, meaning they contain both male and female reproductive structures. Pollination is typically done by insects such as bees, butterflies, and flies. Once pollinated, the flowers will produce small, green seed pods that will eventually turn brown and release their seeds.

One of the most interesting facts about meadow buttercups is their toxic properties. The entire plant is toxic, containing a compound called ranunculin, which when ingested can cause severe gastrointestinal issues and even death in livestock. However, in small doses or when used externally, the plant has been traditionally used as a remedy for skin conditions like warts and eczema.

Meadow buttercups are a lovely addition to any wildflower meadow or garden. They are easy to grow and care for, and will add a splash of bright yellow color to any space. They are perfect for naturalizing in meadows and fields, and can also be grown in pots or other containers.

In addition to their ornamental value, meadow buttercups are also an important food source for many types of wildlife. The flowers are an important nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other insects, and the seeds are a valuable food source for small mammals and birds. This makes meadow buttercups an excellent choice for wildlife gardens and other landscaping projects that aim to provide food and habitat for wildlife.

Meadow buttercups are also a popular choice for cutting gardens. The bright yellow flowers make a beautiful addition to bouquets and floral arrangements, and they have a long vase life. They are also great for drying, and dried meadow buttercups can be used in dried flower arrangements and other crafts.

When growing meadow buttercups, it is important to note that they prefer full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. They are also tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including clay, loam, and sand. They are also drought tolerant. They are easy to propagate from seed, and can also be divided or propagated from cuttings.

Another interesting fact about meadow buttercups is that they are a member of the Ranunculus genus, which includes over 600 species of plants found all over the world. Many of these species have similar characteristics to the meadow buttercup, including bright yellow petals, glossy foliage, and a rosette growth habit.

Meadow buttercups are also known for their medicinal properties, although they should be used with caution as they are toxic when ingested in large amounts. The plant has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments including skin conditions, rheumatism, and even as a diuretic. It's important to note that it's always better to consult a professional before ingesting any plant that has toxic properties.

Another thing to consider when growing meadow buttercups is that they are considered an invasive species in some parts of the world. They are particularly problematic in areas where they are not native and can outcompete native plant species, reducing biodiversity. Therefore, it's important to be aware of their invasive status before planting them, especially if you live in an area where they are considered invasive.

In conclusion, meadow buttercups are a beautiful and unique wildflower with many interesting characteristics, including bright yellow petals, glossy foliage, and a rosette growth habit. They are an important food source for wildlife, and their medicinal properties have been traditionally used for certain ailments. However, they should be used with caution as they are toxic when ingested in large amounts. Gardeners should also be aware that they can be considered invasive in certain parts of the world and take necessary precautions. Overall, meadow buttercups are a fascinating and versatile wildflower that offers a lot of beauty and interest to any landscape.


Meadow Buttercups filmed near Haigh Hall in Lancashire on the 27th April 2023:


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map