Somehow, I lived a lot of my life not fully appreciating the floral beauty that is the ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus). It’s hard to believe, I know. Now, they are firmly one of my favourites to not only shoot but also to enjoy at home.
Ranunculus almost overflow with gorgeousness, with their layer upon layer of ruffly, delicate petals. Correspondingly known as Persian or Turban Buttercups, the species that floristry uses is closely related to buttercups. As a matter of fact, the buttercups we know from childhood. The ones we use to reflect yellow light on our chins to see if we liked butter or not! Surprisingly this is a Ranunculus x arendsii.
Almost 400 species
Floristry typically uses the Ranunculus Asiaticus species, but there are almost 400 other ranunculus species. The other species gorgeous petals range in colour from yellow, to red, to pink, to white, and to orange. The colour of the Ranunculus that is available is either solid or variegated and beautifully splotchy.
In Latin, ranunculus means little frog. The ranunculus likely got its name because, like frogs, it is found alongside rivers and streams and found in large numbers.
Native to what was called AsiaMinor (which comprises parts of Turkey and Armenia), Ranunculus asiaticus was introduced to Britain in 1596, and soon became highly esteemed both by florists and the general public.
If you put ranunculus in a bunch, you are saying in the language of flowers, ‘I am dazzled by your charms’.
In floristry, the ranunculus don’t need a lot of prep. You simply remove any loose leaves or leaves from the bottom of the stem. They come in lots of different sizes and colours and have a vase life of 5-7 days, possibly longer if looked after.
They are greedy drinkers, so need lots of water, freshened regularly and don’t like direct sunlight or draughts.
If you consume the ranunculus, it is toxic. This is like many of the Ranunculaceae family (anemone, clematis, delphinium, hellebore, etc.). The petals are not the edible ones to scatter over a wedding cake. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep away from pets as well.