Buttercup Flower Meanings & Symbolism


Enthusiastic Ranunculus plants grow mostly in North America with most of the blanket fields and roadside mid-summer sunny yellow flowers. Often found with daisies and growing up is a favorite child. Under the buttercup’s jaw, observe the reflected gold is known to know you like butter.

What Does the Buttercup Flower Mean?

The buttercup flower is more than a kid’s flower and has symbolism of its own. Under normal circumstances, the buttercup means:

  • Humility
  • Neatness
  • Childishness
  • “Your charm dazzles me.”

Etymological Meaning of the Buttercup Flower

The buttercup belongs to the genus Ranunculus L. and includes at least 93 species or subspecies. While buttercups range in size and height they are all yellow or gold flowers with green centers. There are many legends explaining how the buttercup got both its scientific and common name.

  • Legend of Ranunculus: According to this ancient legend, a Libyan youth named Ranunculus was known for his beautiful singing voice and stunning attire of yellow and green silk. His voice had the power to entrance any who heard him sing. One day when singing to a group of wood nymphs, he became so entranced by his own voice that the collapsed and gave up the ghost. To honor the fallen youth, Orpheus transformed him into the tiny buttercup that has been known as Ranunculus ever since.
  • Cow’s Milk: This legend claims the buttercup earned its name from the quality of milk it produced in cows. Supposedly, cows that grazed on buttercups produced the sweetest and most flavorful milk rich in cream. Farmers soon began referring to this lovely yellow flower as a buttercup. This isn’t true, of course, because buttercups are toxic to cows, but that doesn’t stop some people from believing it.
  • The Miser and the Fairies: According to another legend, fairies are responsible for buttercups. When a group of fairies saw an old miser crossing a field with a sack of gold, they stopped him to ask for alms. Not wanting to share his gold, the old miser refused and continued on his way. However, the clever fairies cut a hole in his sack with a blade of grass before he continued on his way. As the he crossed the field, his coins dropped from the bag and were scattered among the grass. Buttercups sprang forth wherever the coins touched the earth.
  • The Coyote: One day when coyote was tossing his eyes in the air and catching them again, an eagle swooped down and stole his eyes. Poor coyote did not know what to do and fashioned new eyes from the dainty buttercup. To this day, the buttercup flower is referred to a coyote’s eyes in many areas of the U.S.

Symbolism of the Buttercup Flower

The buttercup’s primary meaning is that of lightness and joy, but in some rural areas where the buttercup is considered a noxious weed, it can sometimes symbolizes ingratitude.


Buttercup Flower Color Meanings

Buttercups come in shades of yellow with green centers and take on the color meaning for these colors.


  • New Beginning
  • Joy
  • Happiness
  • Friendship


  • Optimism
  • Renewal
  • Good Fortune
  • Health
  • Youth

Meaningful Botanical Characteristics of the Buttercup Flower

Ranunculus contains toxic compounds and causes stomach discomfort in farm animals. Often, cattle grazing in the buttercup plant leaves it. Use caution when showing cauliflower in a child or pet that may ingest flowers or leaves.

Aboriginal roots of the buttercup plant are used for wet compresses to treat sores, eczema, warts and other skin problems. Ranunculus essential oils used in aromatherapy and are thought to restore your inner child, bringing calm, joy and sweetness into your life.

Special Occasions for the Buttercup Flowers

Buttercups are appropriate for informal entertaining and gift giving. Consider buttercups in combination with other wildflowers for these special occasions.

  • Welcome Home Celebrations
  • Housewarmings
  • Friendship Bouquets
  • Family Reunions

The Buttercup Flower’s Message Is:

Ranunculus The news of flowers is usually one of joy and happiness, especially for those who love wildflowers. Ranunculus can be regarded as a symbol of the recipient’s goodwill. Ranunculus can be stuffed into the vase with bright colors of daisies and other wildflowers added to the bouquet.