Beware of the Buttercup Bully!!!

Ranunculus growing in the woods in springtime
Ranunculus growing in the woods in springtime

Have you seen this blooming on your property??? If your answer is yes, get ready to do battle!! This is a really nasty invasive that hales from Europe and Asia and is taking over North America. It is Ranunculus ficaria,  Lesser Celandine, or more commonly just a cute little buttercup. It was introduced as an ornamental plant in the trade and took off at lightning speed. A spring ephemeral, the plant appears very early in the spring, overtaking other spring ephemerals and displacing them.

Ranunculus ficaria.
Ranunculus ficaria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lesser Celandine is in the Buttercup family and is rampantly spreading everywhere.  I see it at a lot of job sites and the first order of business is to spray it repeatedly with a herbicide before it takes over the entire property. It is possible but very difficult to dig it up, but most of the time, digging just spreads it around because of the fingerlike tubers underground.

Completing it’s life cycle in the winter and spring, it disappears when hot weather rolls around, but it is just getting ready to come out in every greater numbers the following spring with multiplying tubers.  It is relentless! This Ranunculus is smothering out all the more desirable native plants which are so necessary for the local pollinators.

Lesser Celandine
Lesser Celandine (Photo credit: Dave McLear)

Spray with a herbicide early when the weather is at least 50 degrees. As spring advances, spraying is more unsuccessful and you are more likely to overspray other species.

English: Ranunculus ficaria (Celandine) in ful...
English: Ranunculus ficaria (Celandine) in full sun at Spier’s Old School Grounds, Beith, North Ayrshire, Scotland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 Replies to “Beware of the Buttercup Bully!!!”

  1. Thanks Claire, I will watch out for it. The invasive that I have encroaching into the woods is Garlic Mustard. I despise that plant. Laura

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