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Tall buttercup

By: Garden Gate staff
According to folklore, if your skin glows yellow when you hold a buttercup under your chin, you love butter. But that doesn’t mean you have to love tall buttercup!

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Tall buttercup Ranunculus acris

IDENTIFICATION — According to folklore, if your skin glows yellow when you hold a buttercup under your chin, you love butter. But that doesn’t mean you have to love tall buttercup!

Although it looks similar to several native buttercups, this invasive perennial was introduced from Europe, and is now widespread throughout the United States and Canada. Also known as “blister plant,” tall buttercup contains a noxious oil that can blister the skin.

Its branched stems grow 1 to 3 1/2 ft. tall, and end in branched clusters of glossy, five-petaled yellow flowers. The flowers, which bloom from May to September, are only about 1 in. in diameter.

FAVORITE CONDITIONS — Tall buttercup prefers moist soil, so you’ll rarely find it where the ground stays dry. In fact, it often grows in low spots that stay wet, such as roadside ditches and stream banks. You’re more likely to find this weed in shrub borders or established perennial beds than in heavily cultivated areas. It spreads quickly and easily, often crowding out other plants

CONTROL —?Because tall buttercup spreads by seed, control is easiest when plants are young and haven’t had time to set seeds. The roots are often shallow, but dense. Dig or pull this weed out by hand, but make sure to wear gloves so the blistering sap doesn’t get on your skin. You can also remove young weeds with a sharp hoe. A thick layer of mulch will help prevent seeds from germinating.

Broadleaf herbicides like 2,4-D and Roundup® are also effective. Apply them before tall buttercup has a chance to flower and set seeds — you’ll have a much better chance of getting rid of this pesky weed.

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August 24, 2010