Lock down botany challenge!

buttercup flowers

While it’s still lock down how about teaching yourself a vital piece of british botany??

Did you know there is more than one species of Buttercup? If you didn’t, read on and learn!

To keep it simple let’s just stick to learning the most common three; Creeping buttercup, Meadow buttercup and Bulbous buttercup. (Ranunculus repens, acris and bulbosus)

At this time of year if you’re lucky you can find all three in flower on the same common or park. Hot spots at the moment are Stourbridge Common and Coldhams Common. To tell them apart is easy once you have a closer look.

Creeping buttercup, as the name suggests has a creeping growth habit, it spreads out runners in every direction, every few inches putting down roots and developing clusters of leaves. The leaves are hairy with three lobes, the middle lobe is on a long stalk and the flower stalk is grooved. You may need a magnifying glass to spot this detail.buttercup leaves bottercup flowers buttercups

Meadow buttercup is the most majestic of the three, often reaching ninety cms in height, this one is hairy too but not creeping in appearance, upright with branched stems. The leaves are much more toothed than the creeping buttercup leaves, finer and more delicate looking. The flower stalk is not grooved for the Meadow buttercup.

meadow buttercup

Bulbous buttercup flowers early (March- June) which can help with identification is you are looking at in March, otherwise you need to be looking at the flowers themselves. The main give away is under the flower itself, here you will see the sepals, rather than spreading with the flower they are bent backwards down the stem. (Sepals look like little leaves under a flower but which were the original covering of the bud, they usually act as support for the petals but not in this case!) The base of the plant is swollen or bulbous, hence the helpful name.

Sepals down buttercup Try and see if you can spot the difference, good luck!

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