Buttercup Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Uses

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Cue in Build Me Up, Buttercup by The Foundations – so build me up, Buttercup doesn’t break my heart! If you love wildflowers, then the buttercup is the one for you.

If this doesn’t ring a bell yet, this floral name is actually also associated with one of the famous animated characters from the PowerPuff Girls! Aside from the song and cartoon, the dainty buttercup also showcases a unique flower meaning and symbolism.

Buttercups are famously used as ornamentals or folkloric medicinal herbs. It comes in different colors each with its own meaning. A white and pink buttercup symbolizes freedom and childishness. Meanwhile, bright colors such as red and orange means passion and gratitude. Lastly, a yellow and green one represents cheerfulness and good luck.

History of Buttercup Flowers

The buttercup has a long history ahead of it. It was first defined in 1688 as perennial herb plants with vibrant cup-shaped gold flowers having five or more petals and green centers. The buttercup originated from European regions such as Greece, Turkey, and Iran but are now more commonly found throughout North America. It was popularly told in tales that originate from the Persian empire. 

The buttercup belongs to the genus Ranunculus l of the Buttercup or Ranunculaceae family. The Latin name for the Ranunculus genus derives from Latin words rana meaning frog and unculus meaning little. The reason behind this name is mostly because of the flowers thriving in soggy places, just like little frogs!

Meanwhile, the word buttercup got its common name from a false belief that the yellow hue of the flowers made it look like butter and is in fact, poisonous to cows and livestock. The flowers also go by other names such as cuckoo buds or crowfoot because of how the flower and leaves resemble a cleft like a crow’s. 

There are over 93 species of buttercups today. Some of the popular buttercup types include the Tiny buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus), the Persian buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus), Tall Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris), Swamp buttercup (Ranunculus hispidis), and Butter Daisy (Ranunculus repens). 

Buttercups are considered a noxious weed in many areas because it requires low growth habits. Buttercups range from rural areas to partly urban surroundings. It only needs full sun or partial shade conditions and a well draining soil to thrive.

Symbolism of Buttercup Blossoms

The buttercups appear like such a calming sight to see in any damp soggy field. It has several symbolic meanings because of its growth and beauty. Oftentimes, buttercups symbolize humility neatness childishness. It has a symbolic meaning of being a child at heart, mind, and spirit. 

Another important buttercup flower symbolism comes from Greek and Roman mythology. It is believed that the organized petals of the flower were a floral emblem of the god of war, Ares and Mars. 

In some cultures, a buttercup symbolizes ingratitude because of its threat towards livestock. For others, the neat lines on the petals symbolize positive energy, good fortune, and good health and make for a great welcome home bouquet.

pink buttercup

Meaning of Buttercup Flowers

The buttercup flower meaning comes from a very unique belief. Many say the etymological meaning of the buttercup comes from how it resembles a fresh slab of butter and is shaped into a cup. Aside from the buttercup’s primary meaning, it also has many meanings rooted in its history and colors.

In the language of flowers, the buttercup means quite a few negative meanings. These include mockery, spite, and sometimes even madness! Even if there are negative connotations like this, these flowers are still truly rays of little sunshine on a cloudy day.

Under normal circumstances, buttercups are also known as a kid’s flower that brings out the inner child in you. In this case, the flower also means humility and innocence. Its natural colors each have its own interesting color meaning. Here is a list of the buttercup flower colors and their meaning.

What does a White Buttercup Flower Mean?

Like raising a white flag as a sign of surrender during battle, something similar is associated with a white Crowfoot flower. It denotes freedom and forward-thinking in life.

What does a Pink Buttercup Blossom Symbolize?

Pink and playful like children in a field. Pink Ranunculus flowers are symbolic of childishness and at most times, immaturity and a platonic love!

What does a Yellow Buttercup Flower Indicate?

Yellow buttercups come in various colors or shades of yellow. From a bright to soft yellow color it radiates a joyful energy similar to that of a child. Since it thrives in soggy or swampy places, this lovely yellow flower indicates its cheerfulness and joyfulness.

What does a Green Buttercup Flower Mean?

Green buttercups have an interesting meaning. It stands for good luck, good fortune, and a new beginning – just like a four-leaf clover.

What does a Red Buttercup Bloom Represent?

Oftentimes symbolizing love and passion, a red Ranunculus flower depicts a deep desire and pure intentions for a romantic interest or loved one. It represents one’s romantic love. 

What does an Orange Buttercup Flower Symbolize?

Coming out of the swamp as a vibrant floral color, an orange Crowfoot flower symbolizes gratitude and many thanks for all the beautiful things around. It can also symbolize strong emotions.

What is the Cultural Significance of Buttercup Flowers?

During the Victorian era, buttercups were decorated in bouquets with other flowers to symbolize appreciation towards one’s youthful nature. It’s an insult to send just one stalk of this flower.

In the medieval era, it was also a significant symbol of new beginnings.

What are the Folklores and Mythologies Associated with Buttercup Blossoms?

There are many legends explaining the folktales and myths where the buttercup got its name from. The buttercup earned its name from how its charm dazzles a sort of informal entertaining of folks.

In the native American islands, there is one native American legend that speaks of buttercups being coyote’s eyes. In a game where the coyote is only allowed to do the flying eyeball trick four times, the coyote blind after doing the trick more than five times – losing his eyes when the eagle swooped in to grab them. Desperate to see again, the poor coyote uses a pair of yellow buttercups as his new eyes.

Aside from the native American folklore, a famous Greek story tells a tale about a Libyan youth named Ranunculus and his love for his own voice. He was a young boy who wore gorgeous garments of green and yellow silk and had a beautiful voice. With his singing voice and stunning attire in yellow and green silk, he sang along with wooden nymphs and was left entranced in his own melody. Orpheus transformed the fallen youth into the beautiful buttercup flower along with the beautiful singing voice the wood nymphs sing along with.

Another legend speaks of a story involving the cow and miser. According to this ancient legend story, an old miser and the fairies were in disagreement when the miser refused to share his gold. Angered, the clever fairies cut the sack with a blade. Now that sack of gold had a hole, the gold coins dropped on the ground. Afraid that while the miser crossing would notice, once the coins touched the ground, yellow buttercups sprang thanks to the power of the fairies.

The second story speaks of how the quality of cow’s milk is produced because of buttercups. It was said that cows that graze on the blade of grass of buttercups produce the sweetest milk. The flavorful milk rich in sweetness was only produced by cows and not by other farm animals. Farmers then began referring to the buttercup as a beautiful yellow flower.

If you like butter, then you’ll surely like this tale. According to belief, young children can hold these flowers under the little chins of their playmates to see if they love butter! If a yellow reflection is seen, then you’ve got a butter-loving friend by your side! The tale goes a little different for much older children. 

They believe that holding these flowers under the chin of the opposite sex to see if he or she is sweet! If he or she is lucky enough and begins to glow, then there is no doubt of his or her sweetness! 

In a royal legend, it was said that a rich prince fell in love with a graceful nymph. Despite all his advances, she rejected it all and led to him dying of a broken heart. The flower that rose from his death bed was named buttercup.

Whatever you choose to believe, these Buttercups are surely flowers best fitting for child’s play!

What is the Biblical Meaning of Buttercup Florets?

The buttercup flowers buttercups symbolize an important event before the Crucifixion of Christ. Literally appearing like the shape of a cup, these flowers were believed in the Christian religion to resemble the chalice containing the wine Jesus drank during the Last Supper.

Aside from this, the blossoms’ openness symbolizes the receptivity of the Divine Grace of God.

What does a Buttercup Tattoo Symbolize?

The flower is called buttercup because of its intricate and delicate nature. It consists of petals appearing very prim and proper. In the language of flowers, this tattoo decor embodies tidiness and childishness. In a much greater sense of love and relationships, it is symbolic of a sweet disposition.

Uses of Buttercup Plant

Buttercup flower is a famous ornamental plant used on floral arrangements. It’s a great flower for gift giving. A buttercup is the perfect gift to share during family reunions or a great gift for other home celebrations. Additionally, it can also be used in flower beds as a ground cover planted with other wildflowers.

During special occasions, buttercups are used in many childhood games such as the “Do you like butter?” game. Aside from this, the plant has acclaimed traditional uses.

In traditional medicine, Thompson Indians often used the flowers’ essential oils as a body wash – but beware because these oils contain toxic compounds that can cause gastric upset. A poultice could be made from the leaves, flowers, and roots that treat many parts of the body. Buttercups produced juice could also be made from its flowers.

For most people in Ireland, the buttercups were used as a folkloric treatment. They practice combining the flowers with garlic to prevent midges which are tiny flies. A word of caution is that it’s a must to always consult a medical professional before using this plant or any part of it for medical purposes.

~ image source: depositphotos/mschuppi

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