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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

10 May, 2016

Meadow Buttercup: the giant buttercup

Late May is when the meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris) is at its best. Although it flowers through until August late May is the best time to see damp meadows covered in this lovely flower. The water meadows between Fiddleford and Sturminster Newton as just golden with these buttercups in late spring. From a distance you might think that rapeseed is growing there but as you get closer you become overwhelmed by the huge number of buttercup plants.
If you struggle telling buttercups apart, the meadow buttercup is a tall plant that grows up higher than the surrounding grass and because of this it is also known as the giant buttercup. It has multiple flowers on each stalk and thin, 'spidery' leaves. Along with other buttercup species it contains a toxin that can cause skin irritations and vomiting if swallowed so it is best not to pick a bunch and leave them to grow and thrive where they belong.
It grows in untreated meadows across the county but does seem to prosper best in fields by rivers that regularly flood during the winter. It is considered a troublesome weed in some places and so its distribution has declined in recent times due to eradication measure.
Meadow Buttercup: the giant buttercup