There are about 600 species of buttercup in the world and four of these are very visible in May. Many people will remember playing with these when they were children. Children held buttercups under their chins and if the petals were reflected it was a sign that they liked butter!
A very common buttercup which is found in waste ground, roadsides and cultivated fields and gardens is the Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) (1) In Irish it is called Fearbán Reatha. Because it grows from runners it can take over a garden in no time if left unchecked. Its stems are furrowed, and its leaves are not as narrow and divided as those of Meadow buttercup. Its triangular leaves have three lobes.
Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris) (2) or Fearbán léana in Irish is much taller than the Creeping buttercup and its leaves are much more divided. It is found in meadows and roadsides where the grass is left uncut. It has plentiful supplies of nectar and pollen and attracts lots of bees, butterflies, and beetles. The sap can irritate the skin.
The flowers of both above are somewhat similar to the Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) or Tine talún in Irish. However, unlike the pair mentioned, this one has its sepals folded back and has a bulb at the base just under the soil.
Finally, Marsh marigold (3) (Calthra palustris) or Lus buí bealtaine in Irish grows in marshy ground or on the edge of ponds. It attracts many insects because of its abundant nectar.