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David Watson Hood, visual artist.
The image for buttercups
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Buttercups: Ranunculus acris L. Meadow Buttercup, Buidheag an t-Samhraidh, Cearban feoir (grass rag), Gair-Cean, Gowan, Crowfoot, Gold Cup, Grenouillette.

Ranunculus repens L. Creeping Buttercup, Buidheag, Craw Feet, Kraatae, Sikker.
and other species.


buttercupThe buttercup is often the first or second flower we learn to name and thus fall into the naming blindness trap. We have a word and so stop seeing, that there are in fact several different species that go by that name. Nonetheless most of them are great survivors that grow almost anywhere in almost all conditions. I remember when I was in Wales I would wander, picking brambles and hunting rabbits, over a neighbour's fields where the actual topsoil had been sold, buttercups grew in lush profusion where almost nothing else did.

In folklore there is a sympathetic connection made between the rich yellow of the buttercup, its occurrence in pasture and butter. This survives in the children's game of holding a flower under a friends chin to see if they like butter.

Non-medical uses of buttercups
The flowers of buttercups yield a light fawn dye (alum as mordant), green (chrome as mordant) or yellow (with tin as mordant).
Most if not all the members of the genus are also poisonous in all parts, although the leaves and roots have been used as famine foods the toxins being reduced by drying and heating. There are stories of beggars using the sap to ulcerate their feet in order to gain sympathy.

Medicinal uses of buttercups
Extreme caution advised
R acris

Acrid, Anodyne, Antispasmodic, Diaphoretic, Rubefacient, Warts.
Definitons of medical actions

The whole plant is acrid, anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic and rubefacient. The plant has been crushed and applied as a poultice to the chest to relieve colds and chest pains. The fresh leaves have been used as a rubefacient in the treatment of rheumatism etc. The flowers and the leaves have been crushed and sniffed as a treatment for headaches. An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea. The poulticed root is also rubefacient and was applied to boils and abscess. The plant sap has been used to remove warts. The sap has also been used as a sedative. The flowers are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are considered to have an acrid taste and a heating potency. Their use is said to promote heat, dissolve tumours and draw out serous fluids. They are used in the treatment of disorders brought about by rotting sores or wounds. Use with caution, the whole plant is extremely acrid and can cause intense pain and burning of the mouth, mucous membranes etc.

Anecdotal accounts of Highlanders applying the juice in limpet shells to raise blisters with a therapeutic intent.

R repens
Analgesic; Rubefacient
The entire plant is analgesic and rubefacient. A poultice of the chewed leaves (pity the poor chewer) has been used in the treatment of sores, muscular aches and rheumatic pains. see the notes above on toxicity.

Sources:
Plants For A Future, www.pfaf.org/index.html,
Flora Celtica, www.floraceltica.com/, Flora Celtica is an international project based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, documenting and promoting the knowledge and sustainable use of native plants in the Celtic countries and regions of Europe.

Back to Other flowers of Scotland" Index | Back to Buttercup Image

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