Quote of the Week, Perhaps a Bit Longer

"The biological community is a vast and complicated system for sharing and distributing the energy of the sun among a diversity of life forms." ~Martson Bates

2/28/09

Special Edition: Dear Little Buttercup

Today (2/27/09) I saw my first wildflower of the season, it was the Sagebrush Buttercup; Ranunculus glaberrimus of the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family. I really wish I would have taken a picture of it but we were on horseback chasing some cows out of the mountains, so it was hard to stop and take a picture. The flower of the Sagebrush buttercup, as with all buttercups, is yellow... my favorite color!

In the words of the Three Amigos:

Dear little buttercup
Sweet little buttercup,
My little buttercup
I love you!

Ranunculus glaberrimus, this picture is from the USDA Plant Database.

A little about Ranunculus glaberrimus:

It is perennial, with the leaves being mostly basal. The flowers are on stalks up to 10 cm long and typically have five yellow petals. It is usually found in ponderosa pine woodlands and in sagebrush deserts. Being one of the first plants to bloom in the spring, it's not strange that it's the first wildflower I've seen this season.

All parts of this plant are at least mildly poisonous when fresh, but the toxin is unstable and can be decreased by boiling or drying. For medicinal purposes the poultice of mashed and dampened whole plants have been applied externally to relieve sore joint pains. As a poison, the plant has been used in meat as poisoned bait for coyotes and has been rubbed onto arrow points to create poisoned arrows. All parts of the plant are considered skin irritants.

References:

Spellenberg, Richard. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers: Western Region. New York: Knopf, 2001.

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany. Portland, OR: 1998.

1 comment:

danwinnemucca said...

uh oh, poisonous ~ i'll be keeping an eye on any drinks you bring me from here on out :) it is so cool watching spring emerge, although still seems too early to me.