Persian Buttercup Hybrid
by Brian Johnston (Canada)
Unlike the common wildflower buttercup,
which is uniformly yellow in colour, this dwarf variety of Ranunculus asiaticus has
layers of striking, multicoloured, tissue-paper thin
you will see in this article, many quite different colour
grow in the same container.
The Bloomingdale series of
buttercups, (alternatively Turban Buttercup or Persian
derived from a species growing in South-western Asia and
Europe in the early 1980’s. The plants grow to a maximum
of about 25 centimetres, and the blooms on my plant had diameter
about 8 centimetres.
The first image in the
the one below show a particularly fine example.
However, not all examples are
fine as the one above. Here is a smaller, less symmetrical
Developing buds are completely
protected by a ring of five, pointed sepals.
Closer examination reveals
sepals’ outer surfaces are completely covered by very fine, soft
As the bud increases in size
separates the sepals, but it is interesting to note that they
remain in contact with the top of the bud. At this stage,
final colour of the flower is nowhere to be seen.
Eventually, at the point where
bud’s size is great enough to separate the sepal tips, the
final colour combination becomes evident. When a blooming
is described as being beautiful, it is usually understood that
the flowers that are so described. It has been my
in many cases the appellation belongs to the buds as well!
Soon the sepals separate
from the flower’s mass of tightly packed petals and provide an
base for the opening flower.
While still tightly packed
ball shape, the random red and white patterns on the petals’
can certainly be considered ‘eye-candy’!
Closer views of both the top
side of an opening flower reveal strange floral landscapes.
Notice that a sepal has a
prominent vein running its full length. There are much
evident veins on either side of the main one.
As the thin, fragile layers of
petals open out and separate from one another, they push the
back out of the way. Eventually, in most views the sepals
visible at all. In this flower the central disk with its
green colour, contrasts strikingly with the red, pink and white
Let’s now take a closer look
petals in the transition area between the green upper, and pink
I have already mentioned the
hairiness of the flower’s sepals. In the image below there
hints that the edges of petals have hairs as well.
Confirmation of this
comes from examining the following photomicrographs. The
one of the light green sections of a petal was photographed with
microscope and it is apparent, particularly in the second image,
the hairs are completely transparent!
Notice the tip of the petal
the centre of the image below. Both green and pink
If this petal is examined
microscope, the pigmented cells themselves can be seen.
second image shows a higher magnification view of cells in the
section, and the third image provides a view of a detail in the
While photographing the plant,
noticed that there was no evidence of reproductive structures in
the flowers. Since this seemed unlikely, I began pulling
petals in the region of the flower where the stamens and pistil
usually found. Still seeing nothing, I continued to peel
petals from the tiny green onion-like structure that can be seen
second and third images below. Eventually, there was
left. The mystery will be solved in the next section of
Although the plant’s label at
garden centre read ‘Bloomingdale Series’, I suspect that the
label was ‘Bloomingdale Mix’ since the flowers had such
different colourations. The images that follow show
variation, a flower with no green centre, and mostly white
narrow dark red fringes along the edges.
Views from the back reveal
base petals are not white, but black on their undersides.
Closer views reveal that
beneath the central whorl of petals, there is indeed a small
Strangely, another flower with
similar colouration has completely white base petals rather than
pink of the earlier example.
When looking through the DSLR
viewfinder to take the picture shown below, I thought that my
might be deceiving me. Hidden between the whorl of central
there appeared to be stamens. At last I had found a flower
After peeling away the
ring of petals, both stamens and pistil were revealed.
Closer views reveal that of
necessity, the structures are more tightly packed, and arranged
more random pattern than those of most other flowers.
The flower’s many anthers look
little like over-ripe bananas. The are mostly yellow with
of dark blue, and have a groove along their length. No
grains are visible. At the centre of the group is a
domed stigma with a rough surface.
The two images below show the
longitudinal groove on an anther’s surface.
Many of the anthers have
The anther’s supporting
usually hidden in the overall ‘mess’ but here is one that is
Photomicrographs taken of the
surfaces of several anthers can be seen below.
The anthers visible in the
images had not yet begun to release pollen – a process referred
dehiscing. I was forced to peel away part of an anther’s
protective membrane in order to obtain images of Persian
pollen grains. They appear to be spherical, and almost
Buttercups tend to have large
numbers of pistils in a mound at the flower’s centre. This
is no exception. Even in a macro-photograph it is possible
the many fine, colourless, hair-like stigmas in the mound.
If you look closely at the
photomicrographs below that show a portion of the mound, you can
the pointed tips of the stigmas, the supporting styles, and at
bases of the styles, the ovoid ovaries.
Near the base of the mound of
pistils, the stigmas and styles are shorter, and it is easier to
distinguish the swollen ovaries.
By pulling away some of the
pistils, it is easier to see surface details of the ovary.
leaves are described as rounded, and deeply three-lobed.
Photomicrographs showing a
upper surface can be seen below.
Similar views showing the
surface of a leaf follow. Note the oval stomata and guard
that control gas transfer into, and out of, a leaf’s interior.
Finally, here are two views of
of the plant’s stems. Note its intense hairiness.
The striking bi-coloured or
multi-coloured flowers of Persian Buttercup hybrids certainly
ideal ornamental plants in gardens or planters.
The low magnification, (to
macro-photographs were taken using a 13 megapixel Canon 5D full
DSLR, using a Canon EF 180 mm 1:3.5 L Macro lens.
A 10 megapixel Canon 40D DSLR,
equipped with a specialized high magnification (1x to 5x) Canon
lens, the MP-E 65 mm 1:2.8, was used to take the remainder of
The photomicrographs were
using a Leitz SM-Pol microscope (using a dark ground condenser),
the Coolpix 4500.
A Flower Garden of
A complete graphical index of
of my flower articles can be found here.
The Colourful World
A complete graphical index of
of my crystal articles can be found here.
Microscopy UK or their contributors.
Published in the
July 2013 edition of Micscape.
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