Pronounced ran-UN-kew-lus. The Latin name ranunculus means "little frog". They originated in the The Middle East, hence their alternative name "Turban Buttercup".
The intricate flowers of Ranunculus create a spectacular display, especially when grown en masse. Many spring flowers provide color, but the palette is mostly limited to blue, yellow, or muted tones of other shades. This cannot be said of the ranunculus, they have a wonderful array of colors, yellow, white, red, pink, orange, and and copper, either peony flowered or open flowered, with dark or yellow centers.
Ranunculus belong to the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and is the cultured cousin of the Marsh Marigold. They are derived from a species native to southwest Asia and southeast Europe, where summers are dry and hot but springs are cool and moist. They flower in winter and spring.
In fairy tales frogs are apt to change into princes and it was an Asian prince in just such a story who gave his name to this flower, which grows naturally in swampy ground. The prince was so good-looking that he was loved by everyone. He also had a beautiful voice but this was his undoing. He loved the open country and sang delightful songs in the presence of nymphs. He did not have the courage to declare his love to them and this haunted him so much that he died. After his death he was changed into the flower with delicate tissue petals which bears his name.
The ranuculus meant "you are rich in attractions" to the Victorians.