Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Swamp buttercup

Warm, dry weather is in the forecast for most of Iowa later this week, so it’s a perfect time to go look for spring wildflowers in parks and along trails. Today’s featured wildflower is a buttercup I spotted along the Bill Riley trail in Des Moines, in between Greenwood Park and Water Works Park. Several photos are after the jump. At the end of this post, I couldn’t resist including one shot of swamp buttercup next to what may be the most despised Iowa wildflower.

Morel mushroom hunters have been finding treasures in Iowa woods this past week, or so I hear. If you come across any garlic mustard while you’re out and about, now’s the time to pull this invasive plant up and throw it away in garbage bags. Recent rains will have loosened the soil, and the garlic mustard roots are not too deep to pull out. Also, while I’ve seen many plants flowering, I haven’t seen any gone to seed so far this year.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.  

I am reasonably sure the following pictures are swamp buttercup (Ranunculus septentrionalis). When I noticed the plant last spring, I thought it might be early buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis). But a more knowledgeable Iowa wildflower enthusiast pointed out that early buttercup likes dry woodland or roadside soils. This flower was growing in bottomland woods, near a creek that flows into Walnut Creek and then the Raccoon River.

Another possibility is hispid buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus), which is native to most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. In fact, some sources give swamp buttercup as a common name for hispid buttercup, while other sources no longer distinguish between Ranunculus septentrionalis and Ranunculus hispidus. But again, hispid buttercup tends to prefer dry soils, so I decided to be old-fashioned and call this plant swamp buttercup.

The Illinois wildflowers website includes a good description of the leaves, stems, and flowers. In this shot, you can see a group of swamp buttercups, with one bud about to open, one partly open, and one fully in bloom.

Swamp buttercup stages photo Swampbuttercupsstages_zps00339fb3.jpg

Here’s a closer look at a partly-open swamp buttercup.

Swamp buttercup opening photo Swampbuttercupopening3_zpsef2217c6.jpg

Here’s a cluster of swamp buttercups.

Swamp buttercup cluster photo Swampbuttercupcluster_zps06c311b7.jpg

All of the flowers have five yellow petals, but sometimes the petals are more round, while others look a little pointed.

Swamp buttercup rounded petals photo Swampbuttercupextraclose2_zpsc37f038c.jpg

Swamp buttercup pointed petals photo Swampbuttercupclose4_zps4195b1e8.jpg

When I saw this buttercup blooming in the middle of two dandelions, I had to get a shot. Most adults detest dandelions, but how could any flower so beloved by children be so awful?

 photo Swampbuttercupwithdandelions2_zps05d9b246.jpg



Tags: Wildflowers

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