Often referred to as the rose of the spring, Ranunculaceae, are a widespread group encompassing some 400 species of annuals, biennials, and perennials many of which are cultivated, while others are admired in the wild, and some are despised as invasive weeds. Several species have thickened rhizomes that were once considered a type of corm. Ranunculus is Latin for little frog, a name given by the Roman Pliny because of the wet conditions in which these plants are often found. The commonly grown turban buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus) is sometimes known as the Persian crowsfoot because of the shape of the "corms".
The foliage of Ranunculus species and cultivars varies markedly, though glossy, leathery, deeply cut and divided leaves predominate. The wild species usually have simple 5-petalled flowers, usually in yellow or red, and borne singly through spring and summer. Cultivated forms occur in many colours, such as white, pink, and orange, and often have fully double flowers.
These plants are very hardy and will grow in a wide range of conditions. As they prefer to have their roots kept cool and moist, plant Ranunculus species in a sunny or partly shaded position with moist well-drained soil. They are hardy where the soil does not freeze, but in colder climates the corms should be lifted and stored dry. Many species have strong rhizomes that can be invasive if care is not taken to ensure that they are planted where they can be controlled. Mildew can be a problem in autumn. Propagate by division or from seed.
Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.
© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora's Gardening Cards