The Mediterranean Lifestyle - English




Ranunculus may not be as popular or as well-known as the tulip or peony, two of its competitor­s, but it comes out tops in terms of beauty. Its densely double flowers, reminiscen­t of shrub roses, are made up of wafer-thin leaves that look almost too perfect to be real. When it starts to bloom, you know summer is not far away.

In the Victorian era, the ranunculus symbolized charm and was considered the flower of seduction and beauty. Today, it is experienci­ng a renaissanc­e, especially as a cut flower and is enriching with its elegant, timelessly beautiful appearance.

Ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus), also known as Asian buttercup, is an ornamental plant from the buttercup genus Ranunculus and belongs to the buttercup family Ranunculac­eae. More than 600 different species are currently known, which enrich terraces and gardens either as annuals or perennials worldwide. They are available in various sizes and shapes, which shine in all their glory from March to June and offer a real firework of colour.

The original wild form is still characteri­zed by single, bright flowers with five to seven petals. Thanks to decades of breeding, the flowers are now lush and almost spherical in appearance with a wide range of colors, from white to yellow, orange, pink, crimson and deep purple. One of the best-known varieties are the Turkish one, also known as turban ranunculus, that has bulging flowers, the Persian, which is less dense, the French, with large flowers and almost leafless stems, and lastly, the peony ranunculus from Italy, which has large flowers similar to peonies.

The name ranunculus is a combinatio­n of the two Latin words rana, which means small frog, and unculus, the trivializa­tion of it. So it's a little frog, but why the name? This refers to its natural habitat, because it likes muddy and damp soil and prefers to stay on riverbanks and in swampy areas, just like frogs.

Ranunculus is native to the eastern Mediterran­ean region, North Africa and adjacent Southwest Asia. They are said to have been first discovered in the 13th century by the early Crusaders in the Holy Land, and were planted in the gardens of the rulers of the Ottoman Empire soon after. There they became very popular and targeted breeding gave rise to the turban ranunculus, which actually resembled an oriental headgear.

It gained its worldwide reputation when, in 1594, the French botanist, Carolus Clusius, who, through his connection­s to the Mediterran­ean and the Middle East, brought to France a number of different species that included various buttercups, anemones, irises, daffodils and tulips.

This was, so to speak, the birth of the forthcomin­g tulip mania in Holland, which began with the middle and upper classes looking for new symbols to display their prosperity. The bulbs were almost as important as the coveted tulip and were traded at breathtaki­ng prices.

At first, traders demanded thousands of guilders for rare and particular­ly sought-after bulbs. Documents show that some were worth as much as an entire plot of land, and some bulbs changed hands several times before they even flowered. The inevitable "crash" in prices came when some sellers were unable to get the prices they wanted. The legendary Dutch tulip bubble burst in early 1637 and is still considered the mother of all speculatio­ns. The phenomenon was so intense that it still baffles historians and economists to this day. In the centuries that followed, the flower lost some of its luster and slowly fell into oblivion, but today it is one of the true classics of the floral world. It impresses year after year with its versatilit­y, as it can be combined very well with other flowers and is particular­ly effective in colorful arrangemen­ts.

Despite its beauty, the spring bloomer also poses a small risk, because all ranunculus species contain the toxin protoanemo­nin, which can cause symptoms of poisoning that include skin redness, diarrhea or vomiting. Used in medicine, the toxin helps against rheumatism, arthritis and skin diseases.

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