Children love to play the game of picking a buttercup, then putting the flower under someone’s chin. When the chin glows yellow, to their delight they have ‘proved’ the person likes butter. Yet the Oxford Junior Dictionary has taken buttercup out of its dictionary. The word is no longer used often enough by children to merit inclusion. Buttercups are out all round our village, so now’s the time to look out for and enjoy them again.
The buttercups growing throughout the village are treasures, with their glowing colour, glossy petals and abundance and are also much loved by insects for all the pollen they provide. There are three commonish species of buttercup: creeping, bulbous and meadow. We are lucky to have the more unusual bulbous buttercups growing in our grassy areas around Burwell.
You can tell one buttercup species from another by their different leaf shape , however its really easy to tell bulbous buttercups as their underneath petals, officially called sepals, fold backwards down their stems. As you walk round the village, take a quick look.
If you are with children why not let them pick a small bunch, while leaving some for others and the insects to enjoy. For a long while there has been a strict rule about not picking wild flowers. This has led to people no longer taking much notice of them or enjoying them. Buttercups are sufficiently common for picking them not to cause a problem and the plants will flower again after being picked.
Try pressing buttercup flowers – I first gained my love of flowers from pressing them. Pick some buttercups, lay them between a few layers of newspaper, put some cardboard either side and weight this ‘sandwich’ down with a few books. After a few days you can glue them into a ‘flower book’ or use them to make a card for someone who needs a bit of cheer.