Ranunculus abortivus / Buttercup Family
Not all buttercups are bright and showy. I found this one blooming in Oak Ridge in April. Ranunculus means "little frog" because it often grows in wet areas. The guys who named these plants must have had quite an imagination! I don't know about the meaning of the species name of this plant, abortivus. I wonder if the plant affects the unborn young of animals? All buttercups are poisonous, they contain an irritating oil in the stems and leaves called protoanemonin. The poison causes abdominal pain in the animal, severe diarrhea, convulsions, and finally death. If cows eat the plant their milk will be bitter and reddish in color. Since buttercups have an unpleasant taste, livestock usually avoid eating them unless other food is not readily available. Sometimes buttercups will overtake a field.
Where seen:Oak Ridge, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Warriors' Path SP, Ijams Nature Center, widespread