Ranunculus. Crowfoot. Ranunculus spp.
Ranunculus. Crowfoot. Renoncule, Fr. Hahnenfuss, G;—Most of the plants belonging to the genus Ranunculus have similar acrid properties, and, from their close resemblance, are confounded under the common name of buttercup. R. bulbosus L. was formerly in the Secondary List of the U. S. Pharmacopoeia; but R. sceleratus L. had attracted more attention in Europe, and R. acris L. and R. flammula L. were recognized by the Dublin College. In all these species the plant itself is a violent irritant, producing when chewed excessive inflammation in the mouth and throat, and, when swallowed toxic gastritis which may be fatal. The acrid principle appears to be volatile; according to Bigelow, it is yielded to water in distillation. Clarus discovered, in R. sceleratus L., besides the acrid volatile oil, a nearly inert resin, and a narcotic principle called anemonin or anemone camphor, C15H12O6. The volatile oil is soluble in ether, and is decomposed, on standing, into a white amorphous substance having acid properties (anemonic acid), C15H14O7, and into anemonin. (Brit. and For. Med.-Chir. Rev; 1859, 181.) Rochebrune states that he has separated from R. aquatilis L., R. flammula L; R. sceleratus L. and R. bulbosus L., crystalline alkaloids to which he has given the name of ranunculinne, although their identity is doubtful. These alkaloids are violent irritants and active cardiac poisons. (Toxicolog. Africaine, i.) Before the introduction of cantharides the green buttercup plants were much employed as vesicants.