I’ve been trying to learn about buttercups, specifically how to identify the three species that are most common in my area and, three cheers, I think I’ve finally got it! Each species has several distinguishing characteristics – these are simply the features I find most helpful.
Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris): This is probably the easiest to put a name to, partly because it’s the tallest and also because its leaves are very distinctive – they are quite finely cut, and remind me of geraniums. This is the buttercup I see most often, especially in local wildflower meadows.
Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens): I see Creeping buttercup frequently too, and find its leaves the best way to identify it – they are broader, with three lobes and with pale marks on each lobe.
Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus): Bulbous is the buttercup I see least often. The distinguishing feature I find easiest to remember is the way the sepals underneath the flower bend back against the stem, rather than cupping the flower. I had to turn over a lot of flowers before I found this one!