This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Ranunculus arvensis L. Sp. Pl. 555. 1753.
Erect, glabrous or sparingly pubescent, branched above, 1° or more high. Lower leaves petioled, the upper sessile, all deeply cleft or divided into linear-oblong, obtuse cuneate, lobed or toothed segments or the lowest entire; flowers 6"-8" broad, pale yellow, the petals exceeding the sepals; achenes 4-8, flattened, margined, spiny-tuberculate on the sides and margin, 2" long, tipped with a subulate beak more than one-half their length.
In waste grounds, southern New York and New Jersey to Ohio, and in ballast. Fugitive from Europe, where it is abundant in grain-fields. Called Hunger-weed because supposed to indicate, when prevalent, a poor crop and consequent want. Starve-acre. Devil's-claws. Hell-weed. Horse-gold. Gold-weed. Summer.