|Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)
Genus Aquilegia: Columbine
Genus Delphinium: Larkspur
Genus Ranunculus: Buttercup
Types of Flowers
Buttercups (family Ranunculaceae) are a diverse group of flowering plants.
Most are herbaceous, however, Clematis species are best known for being the flowering vines or climbers of the family.
Often Ranunculaceae are referred to as Crowfoot, with the common name buttercups referring to the species in the largest genus, Ranunculus.
The flora of North America lists 22 genera, 284 species. Worldwide, the numbers are 60 genera and 1,700 species. Many of these species get discussed using the terms showy and/or toxic.
Their bright flowers and easy going nature makes species such as windflowers, columbine and larkspur, along with clematis, garden favorites.
On the other hand, many of the genera are known for producing toxic alkaloids which are harmful to humans and animals when ingested.
One such genera, Aconitum (along with a couple of introduced species) grow in the United States. Western Monkshood (Aconitum columbianum) has the broadest range, growing along streams and other wetland mountain areas throughout the West.
The side view of the flower in the top picture explains the common name. The top of the flower gives is a semblence of a monk's hood.
Flower color ranges from light to dark shades of purple. From a distance, the flower superficially resembles a larkspur.
The entire plant is poisonous to both humans and animals.
Columbia Windflowers (Anemone deltoidea) are one of a handful of white flowering spring bloomers of the Pacific Northwest.
It is generally found growing on forest floors west of the Cascades, including Northern California.
Different windflower species are found throughout all of North America, including Alaska and Canada. Like most species in the buttercup family, the five leaves helps with initial identification.
The three native species in the Genus Caltha in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) go by the name Marsh Marigold.
The most common, the White Marsh Marigold (Caltha leptosepala) in the top pictures, and the Yellow Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), are differentiated by petal color.
The name marsh gives away their habitat, wet areas in temperate climates.
They are among the first bloomers in their territory, and their leaves are listed as toxic.
False rue anemone, the common name given to the four North American species.
The picture shows the Willamette False Rue Anemone flower (Enemion hallii), also known as Hall's Enemion.
Its range is limited to Washington State and Oregon, and it is mostly found on forest floors near streams and rivers.
The five petal flowers tend to grow in bunches and are differentiated from other enemion species by the white anthers. Other enemion species have yellow anthers.
Only one species of the Trautvetteria genus, False Bugbane (Trautvetteria caroliniensis) or Carolina Bugbane depending on whether it is found growing on the East or West Coast.
Rather than its having the normal five petals associated with flowers in the buttercup family, False Bugbane has flowing white stamen growing from a green center.
The plant grows in shady, moist areas near lakes, ponds and stream banks, at mid to higher elevations along the West Coast.
It is suitable as a late summer flowering garden plant, bearing in mind that as a member of the buttercup family, it could be toxic if pets ingest it. There is no definitive information on the plant's toxicity readily available.
The links in the box point to further information on a representative sample of North American buttercup species covering three additional genera.
© 2011-2012 Patricia A. Michaels