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Ranunculus repens

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Ranunculus repens, the creeping buttercup, is a flowering plant in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to Europe, Asia and northwestern Africa.<ref name=fe>Flora Europaea</ref><ref name=grin>Template:GRIN</ref> It is also called creeping crowfoot and (along with restharrow) sitfast.<ref>Oxford English Dictionary entry for "Sit-fast":2. Sc.a. The plants restharrow and creeping crowfoot. 1808 JAMIESON, Sitfasts, restharrow. 1825 {emem} Suppl., Sitfast, Creeping Crowfoot, Ranunculus Repens.</ref>

Description

It is a herbaceous, stoloniferous perennial plant growing to 50 cm tall. It has both prostrate running stems, which produce roots and new plants at the nodes, and more or less erect flowering stems. The basal leaves are compound, borne on a 4–20 cm long petiole and divided into three broad leaflets 1.5–8 cm long, shallowly to deeply lobed, each of which is stalked.<ref name="Parnell">Parnell, P. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. Template:ISBN</ref> The leaves higher on the stems are smaller, with narrower leaflets and may be simple and lanceolate. Both the stems and the leaves are finely hairy. The flowers are golden yellow, glossy, and 2–3 cm diameter, usually with five petals, and the flower stem is finely grooved. The gloss is caused by the smooth upper surface of the petal that acts like a mirror; the gloss aids in attracting pollinating insects and thermoregulation of the flower's reproductive organs.<ref>Functional optics of glossy buttercup flowers Journal of the Royal Society Interface 14:20160933</ref><ref>Buttercups focus light to heat their flowers and attract insects New Scientist 25 February 2017</ref> The fruit is a cluster of achenes 2.5–4 mm long. Creeping buttercup has three-lobed dark green, white-spotted leaves that grow out of the node. It grows in fields and pastures and prefers wet soil.<ref name=blamey>Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Template:ISBN</ref><ref name=fnwe>Flora of NW Europe: Ranunculus repensTemplate:Dead link</ref>

Habitat

In Ireland: very common in damp places, ditches and flooded areas.<ref name="Parnell"/><ref>Hackney, P. 1992. Stewart and Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland. Third Edition. Institute of Irish Studies and The Queen's University of Belfast Template:ISBN )HB</ref>

Cultivation and uses

Creeping buttercup was sold in many parts of the world as an ornamental plant, and has now become an invasive species in many parts of the world.<ref name=grin/>

Like most buttercups, Ranunculus repens is poisonous, although when dried with hay these poisons are lost. The taste of buttercups is acrid, so cattle avoid eating them. The plants then take advantage of the cropped ground around it to spread their stolons. Creeping buttercup also is spread through the transportation of hay. Contact with the sap of the plant can cause skin blistering.<ref name=pfaf>Plants for a Future: Ranunculus repens</ref>

Etymology

Ranunculus is a diminutive of 'rana', meaning 'little frog'. This name is in reference to the amphibious habitat of many Ranunculus species.<ref name="gledhill">Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. Template:ISBN (hardback), Template:ISBN (paperback). pp 326, 328</ref>

Repens means 'creeping' or 'stoloniferous'.<ref name="gledhill" />

References

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