Latin rana—frog, referring to the fact that many species grow in damp frog-inhabited places.
Annual or perennial herbs. Leaves alternate, basal ones stalked, entire or variously dissected or lobed. Flowers bisexual, solitary or in clusters, radially symmetrical. Sepals (3-)5(-7). Petals (0-)5(-many) with nectar-producing glands at the base. Stamens many. Carpels many, style persistent and projecting from the fruit. Fruit 1-seeded achenes in clusters.
Most species are regarded as potentially poisonous to stock (which generally avoid them). R. asiaticus L. is best known through the many-coloured and double-flowered species popular with florists: these were at one time grown by tubers but are now also perpetuated by seed. R. muricatus L., Sharp Buttercup, is found in lawns; it is an annual with tapering spines on the sides of the achenes. R. repens L., Creeping Buttercup from the northern hemisphere, spreads perniciously by stolons and can be a garden weed that is difficult to eradicate.
Adonis is superficially similar to the genus Ranunculus but the petals do not have nectaries. Adonis microcarpa, Pheasant's Eye or Red Chamomile, an agricultural weed with bright crimson flowers and a black spot at the base of the petals, is recorded as naturalised in all Australian states except Tasmania; it is in the northern wheatfields of Victoria and is listed as a noxious weed in South Australia but is not currently cultivated. The perennial Adonis vernalis, Spring Adonis, is occasionally sold; it has scale-like lower leaves, hairy fruits and yellow flowers mostly 4-8 cm across.
Seed or division, tubers or stolons.
Flowers with distinct sepals and petals; fruit a cluster of 1-seeded achenes.
About 600 species mostly from northern temperate areas, occasionally montane. In Australia there are about 47 native species and, in addition, about 10 naturalised species.
Source: (1997). Ranunculaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.