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Problem Plants in your yard. Spring Allergies: The Buttercup

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  • By Meri Book Allen
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Problem Plants in your yard. Spring Allergies: The Buttercup

This cheery yellow flower is actually quite pretty, but the Buttercup has an insidious nature, and will insert itself into your landscape. Safety First! Species vary in their levels of this toxic compound, and individual plants are said to be more toxic in the spring when they are actively growing and flowering to humans and animals.

DON'T TOUCH THAT!
Buttercups or as it is known by its scientific name Ranunculus is flower in the genus Ranunclaceae. Buttercups flower in the spring, but they can be found throughout the summer especially if they are growing as yard or garden weeds.
                                        Buttercups, Ranunculus
 
This cheery yellow flower is actually quite pretty, but the Buttercup has an insidious nature, and will insert itself into your landscape. The plant can be very difficult to control due to its long spidery roots that can re-sprout a new plant if left in the ground.
Controlling buttercup weeds is important in livestock areas, where the plant is toxic, but also in the home garden unless you like a tumble of interlocked foliage covering up everything.
Not only do the plants seed like rabbits breed, but the creeping stems root and take hold as the plant scrabbles over soil. Each newly rooted spot is a new plant. Add to that that, the plant can reestablish itself with just a root or stem fragment and you probably get the picture that removal of the weed is going to be a challenge.
 
Hand pulling is possible in small infestations, but you must use a tool designed to remove deep roots and get every bit of the weed. Wear protective clothing when handling the plants too, as the sap can seriously irritate the skin.
 
Mowing, will not touch the weed. In addition, hoeing or rototilling is not effective, as it leaves behind small bits of plant matter that can regrow
But wait! There's good news and an easy fix using free materials! Changing the growing conditions in an area is one way to minimize the growth of the plant. Buttercup likes nutrient poor, compact soil with a low pH. Lower the acidity of soil, increase percolation and fertilize for cultural buttercup control.
                                        May be an image of flower and nature
 
Once you get a handle on the weed, be vigilant and attack the problem at the first signs of recurrence.
                                        May be an image of flower and nature
 
Safety First! Species vary in their levels of this toxic compound, and individual plants are said to be more toxic in the spring when they are actively growing and flowering.
When the leaves are crushed or bruised, buttercup releases a compound called ranunculin. This compound breaks down to form an acrid, toxic oil called protoanemonin. Contact with this oil causes dermatitis. Symptoms occur within an hour of contact and include burning and itching along with rashes and blisters. When the leaves are chewed, blisters can form on the lips and face. If swallowed, severe gastrointestinal irritation can follow, accompanied by dizziness, spasms, and paralysis. The toxic oil is also irritating to the eyes.
                            May be an image of text
 
Other genera in the buttercup family may also contain high levels of protoanemonin, including popular ornamentals like Clematis, Helleborus, Anemone, and Pulsatilla. Thus, the moral of this story: handle these plants with care.

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