Ranunculus ficaria (fig buttercup)

description: herbaceous perennial

place of origin: Europe

urban habitat: commonly found in neglected lawns, in disturbed forests; thrives in moist, sunny locations but can tolerate shade.

ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer.

history: Ranunculus ficaria was probably introduced into North America as a ground cover, although the date of its introduction is unknown. It is now considered invasive in the eastern and central US. In Europe, the plant was used for thousands of years for treatment of hemorrhoids and ulcers, and the whole plant is astringent. Its young leaves can be consumed raw or cooked, although its leaves turn poisonous as the plant matures. The flower buds are said to make a good substitute for capers.