This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
No deposits have as yet yielded achenes of this plant. It is distributed over the Arctic and Cool Temperate Zones, in Arctic Europe, N. and W. Asia, to the Himalayas. Goldielocks is absent from Monmouth, and in Wales only occurs in Glamorgan, Denbigh, and Anglesea. It is absent from S. Lincs and the Isle of Man. In Scotland it is not found in any of the following counties: - Dumfries, Wigtown, Peebles, Selkirk, Linlithgow, Banff, Elgin, Westerness, Main Argyll, W. Highlands or N. Highlands, or Northern Isles. In the Highlands it is found at an altitude of 1600 ft., and in S. and W. Ireland it is rare.
The Goldielocks is a shade-loving hedgerow and woodland plant, which appears to delight in sandy soil where also some humus is present, and clusters in patches of a yard square beneath the shelter of a bank. There it forms a rich contrast with the surroundings with its yellow (rarely perfect) petals and delicate foliage. It is fond of ground where there are inequalities of the surface, as well as banks, on which it often grows.
This is one of the terrestrial Crowfoots, with a smooth, shiny stem, with divided leaves, having the lower leaves broadly lobed and the upper more divided, with an erect flowering stem, the flowers being central, and the general shape is pyramidal, as in most plants with radical leaves on long stalks, rounded or kidney-shaped, and more or less leafless flowering stems. A feature of this species is the variation in the type of the leaves at the base.
The petals are usually imperfect, and the honey-gland has no scale. The sepals are constantly as yellow as the petals. The carpels, seated on raised points of the receptacle, are downy. Unlike some other Crowfoots the root is fibrous.
The stem is 1 ft. to 15 in. in height. Goldielocks flowers from April to May, before the trees are in bud or leaf. The plant is perennial, deciduous, and herbaceous.
The nectary assumes a great variety of forms. The corolla is seldom regular, and some petals are usually wanting or functionless, some or all being stunted, while the sepals have a bright yellow flat portion, and partly or wholly take the place of petals. The sepals may be fringed. The honey-glands are at the base of the modified petals. Some petals are reduced to honey-secreting cavities, as in Winter Aconite, and all sorts of transitions to this stage may be found.
Photo. Messrs. Flatters & Garnett - Goldielocks (ranunculus Auricomus, L.)
In the more perfect petals the underside of the triangular base of the petal has a thickened border each side, which fuses below and forms a pit for the honey where they meet. In the more perfect petals, too, honey is secreted by two small pits, to the right and left, on the broader thickened margin. In very stunted petals on the inner side of the base of the two laminae or blades two honey canals, separated by a fold, are deeply sunk. There are two types of pollen. In some intermediate forms no honey is secreted. Hymenoptera (Apidae, Formicidae), Diptera (Syrphidae, Muscidae), Thysanoptera (Thrips) visit it.
The fruits of Goldielocks are dispersed by the wind, and the achenes are downy and adapted for wind dispersal.
This plant is partly a humus-loving plant requiring a humus soil, derived from ordinary humus, and grows best in peaty loam, being found on Precambrian, Carboniferous, Triassic, and Liassic rock soils.
Peronospora ficarice is a fungus which infests this plant. It flowers early, and no insects feed on it.
The name auricomus is from the Latin aurum, gold, and coma, hair.
Goldielocks is called Buttercup, Wood Crow-foot, Goldylocks.
Essential Specific Characters: 7. Ranunculus auricomus, L. - Leaves divided, radical leaves reni-form, 3-7-partite, flowers yellow, petals 3-7, usually imperfect, petals with nectary without a scale smooth, carpels downy, receptacle tuber-culate.