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Ranunculus Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Ranunculus Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Ranunculus is an Asian-native species with medicinal properties. Like how the ranunculus flower has many looks, it also has many myths, meanings, and symbolisms that give the dainty, ruffled blooms a big personality. Also known as the buttercup, the main ranunculus flower meaning is charm. But ranunculus flowers can also have other definitions. 

About the Ranunculus Flower

The ranunculus plant belongs to the Ranunculus genus in the Ranunculaceae family. There are over 600 types of perennial and annual varieties of flowering plants in the family.  

Of these species, the Persian buttercup flower – R. asiaticus – is the most popular type and the origin of many of the year-round contemporary cultivars. 

History and Origin

The Persian buttercup flower is native to Southwest Asia and has origins in ancient Persian myths. There are multiple versions of this myth, with the two most popular being about a handsome young prince.

One lore says that the prince, dressed in gold and green clothes, fell in love with an aloof nymph. But, despite his wooing efforts and the songs he sang, she continued to reject his advances. 

Her rejections caused him to die from a broken heart, which caused a ranunculus flower to grow at his death site. The other most popular version of the legend says that the rest of the nymphs got tired of hearing the man sing. So, they turned him into a flower.

A Native American story gives this flower the nickname Coyote’s Eyes. This legend says that the Coyote – a mythological being – repeatedly tossed his eyes into the air and then caught them as they fell back down. 

But one time, the Eagle flew over and took them from him. Then, because he couldn’t see, the Coyote made buttercups into his eyes.

Cultivars of the Ranunculus came to Europe during the 16th century while Elizabeth I reigned. It appeared around the same time as the tulip and anemone.

Common Names

The name Ranunculus is a mouthful, which is why a more common name is buttercup flowers. Buttercups flowers also go by the name Coyote’s Eyes. 


The flower ranunculus has layers of frilly, delicate thin petals with the texture of crepe paper. The stems can grow to 30 cm tall with fern-like lush foliage. 

Cup-shaped flowers (single or double layer) form in clusters at the top of the stems. Colors can be most rainbow shades – orange, pink, yellow, red, purple, pink, and white – with black anthers.

Ranunculus Flower Care

Ranunculus are frost-tender tubers that grow as annuals in most places. They require sufficient moisture, well-draining soil, and full sun. Soil that is overly wet and warm can cause rotting. You will not need to use fertilizer on annuals.

Caring for cut ranunculus flowers is as simple as removing all leaves from the bottom of the cut stems and any that go below the water. Next, remove ½” to 1” from the base before putting them in a vase of water. Putting your flowers in a cooler can keep them fresh if you need them for decor at an event.

Uses Throughout History

Ranunculus has been a source of medicine and divination for centuries. It was used in medieval times to teach wisdom and deepen your spiritual connection. 

Medieval beliefs also said that the Ranunculus, specifically the Ranunculus bulbosus, are under the protection of a spirit that can help you reach your desires and dreams. They also used the flower for amulets and hung them above the front door.

Medicinally, ranunculus leaves, roots, and flowers treated blisters and lymph gland swelling in medieval times. It was recommended for leprous sores by Pliny the Elder. And in Europe, it was the treatment for the king’s evil – lymph swelling.

Today, the whole plant makes medicine to treat arthritis, hiccups, rheumatic pain, the flu, and other diseases. 

It’s also largely chosen for landscaping, gardens, and borders ornamental purposes. And it makes an incredible cut bouquet due to being able to stay fresh for over a week after being cut. The bouquets are most used for bridal bouquets, spring and wedding corsages, centerpieces, and cake toppers. 

Ranunculus Flower Symbolism

There are a few ranunculus meaning to be aware of before giving this flower as a gift.

Etymological Meaning

Unlike other flower species, the Ranunculus buttercup name doesn’t mean anything significant. 

Rather, it’s made up of Latin words Rana and unculus – little frog. It’s believed this name is due to the flower’s habit of growing near streams. 


One of the most popular ranunculus flowers meaning is attractiveness due to its beauty of the flower. Due to their attractive look, they are a symbolic gift for someone you love. It’s also popular to use for weddings. 


Another buttercup flower meaning is charm. The Persian Buttercup Ranunculus asiaticus was used in Victorian times to say, “Your charms dazzle me.” Florists often recommend this species for expressing romantic feelings and sweet sentiments.

Ranunculus Flower Color Meaning

The ranunculus flower meaning can also vary by color. The different types of Ranunculus mean that you can find these flowers in everything except black. Ranunculus colors include red, pink, orange, white, 


Orange buttercup flowers make a great pick-me-up bouquet for a family member or friend due to their bold, cheerful nature. Ranunculus flowers in orange represent joy, happiness, and positive energy. Use orange for weddings and birth celebrations, and get well soon wishes.


Red represents romance, passion, and love. You can use red Ranunculus as a gift for your partner to remind them that you’re attracted and charmed by them.


Pink ranunculus flowers are also symbolic of love and romance. Light pink Ranunculus are great gifts for a friend, mothers, or to make your partner happy without celebrating an occasion. Blush ranunculus also represents gentle feelings. 


A yellow ranunculus is symbolic of happiness, positive feelings, and joy. Use this color to bring someone joy and imbibe your home with positive energy. For example, give a yellow buttercup for congrats on a well-done job, job promotions, housewarmings, and get well wishes.


Purple Ranunculus are symbols of royalty, mystery, and beauty due to their unusualness. Use this flower for a special person in your life that you want to acknowledge for their uniqueness or charm. It’s appropriate for anniversaries, good luck wishes, birthdays, or just-because bouquets.


A white ranunculus flower means charm, innocence, pure love, grace, and elegance. You can use a bouquet of pure white buttercups to tell someone how important they are to you. It’s also a superb gift for grandparents – birthdays or an appreciation flower.

Ranunculus Flower FAQ

Check out these Ranunculus flowers’ frequently asked questions. 

When Should You Give Someone a Ranunculus Flower?

Due to the meaning of Ranunculus, you can gift this flower to tell someone that you have a crush on them or that you find them attractive. Tango ranunculus makes a fantastic alternative for a romantic gesture instead of red roses. Use it for holidays, birthdays, special occasions, anniversaries, etc.

Are Ranunculus Flowers Annuals or Perrenials?

Ranunculus flowers can be annuals, perennials, or aquatic.

What Does a Ranunculus Smell Like?

Most species of Ranunculus do not have a fragrance. But there are a few varieties with a sweet, heavenly aroma. 

Are Ranunculus Flowers Poisonous?

All types and parts of Ranunculus flowers are toxic to animals and pets when eaten due to a poisonous compound – protoanemonin – on the leaves. In addition, some species can be harmful to touch, leading to blisters and skin redness.

Final Thoughts

The paper-thin and ruffled nature of the petals, coupled with the often vibrant colors, makes Rananuculus flowers a popular choice for flower lovers. The buttercup is symbolic of charm, attraction, careless behavior, and other meanings of love.