Buttercup, BulbousBotanical Name: Ranunculus bulbosus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae Parts used: Juice and Herb.
Synonyms: St. Anthony's Turnip. Crowfoot. Frogsfoot. Goldcup.
The Bulbous Buttercup or Crowfoot is perhaps the commonest of the Ranunculus family, covering the meadows in May with dazzling yellow, being one of the earliest of the varieties to flower, owing to the nourishment stored up in the bulbs.
The specific name bulbosus refers to the bulb-like swelling at the base of the stem, roundish and white, flattened a little both at the top and bottom, somewhat resembling a small turnip - hence one of the popular names for this plant: St. Anthony's Turnip. It is however, not a true bulb, only 'bulb-like.'
This is the 'Cuckow buds of yellow hue' of Shakespeare, and in France it is called the jaunet from the brilliance of its blossoms. Frogs-foot (from the form of its leaves) and Goldcup, from the shape and colour of its flowers, are other English names it bears.
The Bulbous Buttercup has some superficial resemblance to the Upright Crowfoot and the Creeping Crowfoot, but is distinguished not only by its bulb and by the fact that it never throws out runners, but by the fact that its sepals are turned back in the fully expanded blossom, so as to touch the stemthat supports the flower.
The stems are furrowed slightly, not merely round, as in Ranunculus acris. The upper leaves are composed of long, narrow segments, the lower ones broadened out into very distinct masses.
When once established it is not easily eradicated.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Like most of the Crowfoots, the Bulbous Buttercup possesses the property of inflaming and blistering the skin, particularly the roots, which are said to raise blisters with less pain and greater safety than Spanish Fly, and have been applied for that purpose, especially to the joints, in gout. The juice, if applied to the nostrils, provokes sneezing and cures certain cases of headache. The leaves have been used to produce blisters on the wrists in rheumatism, and when infused in boiling water, as a poultice, at the pit of the stomach.
A tincture made with spirits of wine will cure shingles very expeditiously, it is stated, both the outbreak of the small pimples and the accompanying sharp pains between the ribs, 6 to 8 drops being given three or four times daily. For sciatica, the tincture has been employed with good effect.
The roots on being kept lose their stimulating quality, and are even eatable when boiled. Pigs are remarkably fond of them, and will go long distances to get them.
The herb is too acrid to be eaten alone by cattle, but possibly mixed with grasses it may act as a stimulus.
It is recorded that two obstinate cases of nursing soremouth have been cured with an infusion made by adding 2 drachms of the recent root, cut into small pieces, to 1 pint of hot water, when cold, a tablespoonful was given three or four times a day, and the mouth was frequently washed with a much stronger infusion.
Its action as a counter-irritant is both uncertain and violent, and may cause obstinate ulcers. The beggars of Europe sometimes use it to keep open sores for the purpose of exciting sympathy.