Ranunculus almost overflow with gorgeousness, with their layer upon layer of ruffly, delicate petals. Also known as Persian or Turban Buttercups, the species used in floristry is closely related to the buttercups that we know from childhood when we used them to reflect yellow light on our faces to determine if we liked butter or not, Ranunculus x arendsii. There are almost 400 species of ranunculus, but only Ranunculus asiaticus is used in floristry. Their gorgeous petals range in colour from yellow, to red, to pink, to white, and to orange and they can be solid in colour or variegated and beautifully splotchy.
In Latin, ranunculus means little frog, and it is thought that they were given this name because, like frogs, they were found alongside rivers and streams in large numbers. Native to what was called Asia Minor (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.
In the language of flowers, a bouquet of ranunculus means ‘I am dazzled by your charms’.
In floristry, they don’t need a lot of prep – 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.
Like many of the Ranunculaceae family (anemone, clematis, delphinium, hellebore, etc.), all ranunculus are toxic if consumed – so these are not the edible petals to scatter over a wedding cake and it might be a good idea to keep away from pets as well.