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.
The deposits in which seeds of this species have been found are post-Roman. It occurs in the Arctic and Cool Temperate Zones in Arctic Europe and N. Asia, and has been introduced into America. It is found in every part of Great Britain, as far north as the Shetland Isles, and up to a height of 4000 ft. in the Highlands of Scotland. It is common in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Every meadow, whether it be upland or lowland, dry or wet, nourishes a goodly number of individuals of the tall-flowered, upright-orowinsf Crowfoot, which stands out in such contrast to the lowlier grass stems and leaves around. Owing to its acrid properties it is usually avoided by cattle, hence this marked contrast. As a rule it likes flat expanses best, and as far as experience goes it is more uniformly dispersed over dry soils, being thus a xerophile.
The Upright Meadow Crowfoot is similar in habit to Goldielocks, but is taller. There are few flowering stems, and the leaves are chiefly at the base, lying close to the ground, and are usually little variable but much divided. The tall, erect stems distinguish it from the other species of Buttercup.
The root is fibrous, but more robust than that of Goldielocks. The flowering- stems are unfurrowed, whereas in the Bulbous Crowfoot they are furrowed. The long flowering stems, which are downy, and the finely-divided root-leaves help to distinguish it.
The sepals are spreading, the honey-gland is provided with a scale, and the carpels are smooth.
This buttercup grows to a height of 3 ft., flowers from April to September, and is a deciduous, herbaceous, perennial plant, having no stolons.
As soon as the flower is open pollen is discharged by the anthers, commencing from the outside. The stigmas are at this stage not yet mature; the anthers open along their edges, and on ripening turn outwards. Bees dust themselves with pollen, carry it off, and deposit it elsewhere on other plants. The stigmas are mature before the inner stamens have shed all their pollen, and self-pollination often takes place by means of small insects crawling over the flowers.
The inner stamens often touch the stigmas. Larger insects bring about cross-pollination if they go from a young to an older flower. The petals secrete the honey. The female flower may occasionally be on a different plant, though as a rule the flowers are complete. Diptera (Empidae, Syrphidae, Muscidae), Cole-optera (Nitidulidae, Derme-stidae, Buprestidae, Mordel-lidse, Cedemeridae, Ciste-lidee, Cerambycidae, Chrysomelidae), Hymenoptera (Tenthredinidae, Sphegidae, Vespidae, Apidae), Lepidoptera - Small Heath (Satyrus (Ccenonymphd) Pamphilus), Small Copper (Chrysophamis (Polyom-matus) Phlacas), Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphicd) - visit it.
The fruit is dispersed by its own mechanism. The achenes or fruits are close together and are hooked, and dispersed by the normal splitting and scattering of the fruit. It is also wind-dispersed, and dispersed by animals from the effect of the wind upon the long flower-stalks, and by the agency of passing animals. The plants being bitter to the taste are therefore left standing.
It is largely a sand plant, subsisting usually on a sand soil derived from sandy formations in which there is a sandy loam.
Photo. B. Hanley - Upright Meadow Crowfoot (Ranunculus acris, L.)
The fungus Entoloma microsporum forms round or spindle-shaped swellings on the stem and leaves, and Puccinia perplexans infests it, as does Pseudopeziza ranunculi. The beetles Prasocuiris marginella, a hymenopterous insect, Monophobius albipes, and a fly, Phytomyza flava, live on it.
The Latin acris refers to its bitter properties. It is also called Bachelor's Buttons, or Bouton d'or in French. The English names are Baffiners, Bassinet, Blister-plant, Bolt, Butter Creeses, Carlock-cups, Clovewort, Crawfoot, Crazy, Crowflower, Crowfoot, Eggs-and-Butter, Gilcup, Gold Crap, Gold Cup, Gold Knobs, Yellow Gowan, Guilty-cup, Horse Gold, King-cup, King's Knob, Paigle, Yellow-Caul, Yellow Cups.
It is called blister-plcuit, because used in Lincolnshire by the "herb - women" for blisters. The common names buttercup and butterflower are said to be due to the supposed yellow colour of butter from cows eating them, but more probably because of the richness of the meadows where buttercups also grow. In reference to the name Crazy, it is called an insane herb by country folk from an absurd idea that its smell produced madness.
Pliny, in his clay, noticed that this plant and other buttercups caused blisters like those caused by burning. It was thus used for removing leprous sores. Caustic preparations are made from them, but the bitterness is lost in drying; hence hay is eaten without blistering being caused. In the fresh state cattle refuse it. It is even said to cause blisters from merely pulling it up.
Essential Specific Characters: 8.1 Ranunculus acris, L.- Stem tall, erect, no bulb, radical leaves much dissected, upper entire, calyx erecto - patent, carpels smooth, glands of nectary with scale, receptacle glabrous.