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Yellow water buttercup (Ranunculus flabellaris)—(Top) Kitty Kohout/Root Resources, (bottom) Frances V. Davis
Any of about 250 species of herbaceous flowering plants constituting the genus Ranunculus of the family Ranunculaceae. Buttercups are especially common in the woods and fields of the northern temperate zone. The turban, or Persian buttercup (R. asiaticus), is the florist's ranunculus. Among the many wild species are the tall meadow buttercup (R. acris) and common water crowfoot (R. aquatilis). Other members of the family Ranunculaceae are widely distributed in all temperate and subtropical regions. In the tropics they occur mostly at high elevations. Their leaves are usually alternate and stalkless and may be simple or much divided. The flowers may be radially symmetrical or irregular. The family includes such flowers as anemone, larkspur, marsh marigold, clematis, and hepatica (genus Hepatica).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on buttercup, visit Britannica.com.