A very large and very diversified family of herbs, or sometimes wooly plants, divided into three tribes containing 23 genera. Practically all of them have very acrid juices, some of them very poisonous.
A. Water Plantain.
B. Cowslip; Marsh Marigold.
Water Plantain (Ranunculus Laxicaulis) is a rather common marsh-inhabiting buttercup, with five to seven narrow yellow petals. The stem is stout but rather weak and angled, at each joint sending out a clasping lanceolate, almost toothless leaf. The flowers, which are about 3-4 in. broad, are on long peduncles terminating the branching stem that rises from 1 to 2 1-2 feet. It is found in bogs, ditches and muddy places from Me. to Minn, and south to the Gulf of Mexico.
Stiff Water Crowfoot (R. Circinatus) has white flowers and sessile leaves that are entirely submerged; the latter are rigid and do not collapse when taken from the water, as do those of the more common White Water Crowfoot (R. aquatilis). The first species is rather rare and the last very common in slow flowing waters throughout the United States.
Marsh Marigold (Caltha Palustris) is the very common marsh herb usually, but erroneously, called "Cowslip." Its leaves are very commonly used and marketed for food. The flowers are perfect, have no petals but from five to nine (usually the former) golden-yellow, shining sepals and numerous brighter stamens. The stems are hollow and furrowed. The leaves are round kidney-shaped, usually with scalloped edges. Marsh Marigold is abundant in swamps or wet meadows from Newfoundland to Alaska and southwards through the United States, flowering in April and May.
A. Creeping Buttercup.
B. Common Buttercup; Tall Crowfoot.
Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus Repens) is, as per its name, a creeping plant. The stem is prostrate, creeping along the ground and striking new roots from the junctions of the leaf and flower stems with the main one. The flowers are large and broad-petalled, both the petals and stamens being a deep shining golden yellow. This species is indigenous in the West, but probably introduced from Europe in the East, where it is found chiefly near the coast, in ditches or along the edges of marshes.Swamp Buttercup (R. septentrionalis) is another of the Crowfoots that chooses the wettest of places for its habitat. Its stem is hairy, ascending, from 1 to 2 1-2 feet high. In very wet places some of the stems are usually recumbent and form runners. The leaves are on long petioles, and are 3-parted, each division being stemmed and further divided, notched or slashed. The flowers are rather large, for Buttercups, with broad, oval, shining yellow petals, spreading much wider than the sepals. It is common in moist or shady places throughout our range, flowering from May to August.