Well our Buttercups have gone and so now is a good time to write about them.
Mown down by the cruel farmers.
The Buttercups haven’t really gone they will flower all summer in the hedgerows and along country tracks.
But despite my landlord’s retired status this is a working farm and the pastures have to be made use of.
These fields were allowed to grow so that they could be harvested for animal feed. Our fields are being turned into silage and on a neighbour’s farm the very same grass is being cut for hay.
The difference is just that our grass is being collected when wet and stored in a silo where it will be allowed to ferment before being fed to the animals. It’s “pickled” as my farmer friends explained to me. The grass for hay will be spread out in the field and allowed to dry in the sun before being collected.
Buttercups are extremely poisonous to livestock (and us) but both processes break down the toxins and render the meadow safe.
Watching the process of turning our wild flower meadow into silage I was surprised at how much work was involved. When it came to collecting the grass they had one machine picking it up and that was followed by five tractors towing trailers that were being filled and taking the grass away.
There were a lot of people and machines involved and I remarked to my friend, “I am surprised that there is so much money in grass,” I was told that it was not really being grown for profit but just to provide food for the farmer’s own animals, I suppose it is cheaper than buying it.
Well short grass means that I can see what is going on in the fields and it also means that Fizz doesn’t lose her ball so often which saves me a bit of money.
We had two species growing in the field. The golden mass was Meadow Buttercup, Ranunculus acris.
More concentrated around the outside of the field, the hedgerows and shady areas we had, still have, Creeping Buttercup, Ranunculus repens.
They are quite different looking plants and I will show you the differences but they can get confusing especially because as in this next picture they often grow in the same spot and get all mixed up with each other.
When they are mixed up like this you can separate the two species by looking at the flower stem.
Creeping Buttercup has a ridged stem.
Meadow Buttercup has a smooth stem.
Generally you don’t have to look that close.
Meadow Buttercup is a tall gangly plant with little foliage.
The sparse leaves are narrow and deeply divided.
It grows on a single stem with a scattering of basal leaves.
Creeping Buttercup is much more of a bushy little plant.
It has broad palmate leaves and a lot of them.
It is multi stemmed.
The flowers of the two species look very much the same and both can be used to find out if somebody likes butter.
Buttercups are no good to eat but wonderful to drink. Poisonous to livestock, they nourish insects and in their own way the insects return the love.
These are two of our most common native buttercups, there are others but perhaps in another post. For now these are my buttercups. I hope that you like them.