Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - May 28, 2012

From: Mechanicsville, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Managing Roadsides, Non-Natives, Plant Laws, Planting, Propagation, Poisonous Plants, Wildflowers
Title: Digging wild buttercup from roadside in Mechanicsville MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, is it illegal to dig out wild buttercup in Maryland? I see them along the dirt road or just in the ditch. Since buttercup considered weed, I'm wondering what the law say about this. Thank you!

ANSWER:

We (excuse the pun) dug around quite a bit trying to find official word on disturbing roadside wildflowers in Maryland. We found this one website Wildflowers from the Maryland State Highway Administration. We know that in Texas, digging or gathering plants on a roadside is discouraged in the interest of safety, and that plants or seeds may not be removed from private land without the express permission of the landowner.

Now that we are pretty sure the State Troopers won't come after you, we will address this question in a different way. Are you sure you WANT to dig up and transplant "wild buttercups?" Let's talk about the common name.

We really hate plant common names. The Ranunculus (buttercup) genus has 41 species in our Native Plant Database. None of them have the common name "wild," but at least we are close. All buttercups are species of the genus Ranunculus (buttercup). So, there are 41 that we know of that are native to North America, and lots more that we haven't identified or are hybrids or non-natives. It is thought that many non-native wildflowers have come to North America in "wildflower seed mixes."

By various means, we finally decided that there was a good chance that what you are looking at in Maryland is Ranunculus repens, which is native to Europe, Asia and northwestern Africa. At the Lady Bird Wildflower Center, we encourage the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which they grow naturally. Native plants are already accustomed by centuries of experience to climates, rainfall and soils. We researched on that particular species to see what good and bad qualities it has.

University of Tennessee Extension Buttercup and Thistle in Your Pasture

King County, WA Noxious Weeds - Creeping Buttercup

Dave's Garden Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup) with 8 negative comments on invasivness.

Our reading of this is that the "wild buttercup" would be only too happy to move to your garden, and Highway Department would not care at all, but you (and your neighbors) could be very sorry.

Compare these pictures with the ones you are seeing on the roadsides to see if that is what it is.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Color year round, welcome to Austin Texas.
December 04, 2011 - I am new to Austin and want to plant colorful flowers for fall and winter that get a "wow" reaction. I have not seen much at the local nurseries. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
view the full question and answer

How far do Bluebonnet seeds go and what is it called from Hutto TX
April 27, 2010 - How far do Bluebonnets throw their seed and what is it called? THANKS!
view the full question and answer

Flowers found blooming in February in Austin
November 17, 2010 - For people visiting from other states, which flowers usually bloom in February in Austin?
view the full question and answer

Native plants growing between Eagle Pass and Del Rio, TX
October 25, 2005 - I have just bought an acre near Quemado, Texas. That's about halfway between Eagle Pass and Del Rio. I'd like to know what the native plants for this area are, especially colorful flowers for the ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Iris native to Louisiana
May 19, 2005 - A friend of mine has discovered white iris growing alongside of a swampy habitat in southeast Louisiana where there are blue, yellow and copper/red irises. We presume it is wild because it is in a na...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.