Yesterday morning Leonard and I hiked out to see if there was any activity around a couple of nearby coyote and bobcat dens (Modoc County CA). The overnight temperature was 19° and the ground remains covered in snow, so wildflowers were the last thing on our minds.
Much to my surprise, I discovered a few sagebrush buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus) tucked amid some south-facing rocks. Finally!! The first wildflower this spring.
Sagebrush buttercups prefer to be around junipers and sagebrush and are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, showing their bright yellow blooms immediately after the snow melt. Everywhere except on those warm rocks the snow still covers the ground. These blossoms are anxious to greet spring!
The genus name derives from the Latin rana meaning “frog” and relates to the aquatic habitat that most buttercups prefer. Sagebrush buttercups are one of the few buttercups adapted to semi-arid conditions. Glaberrimus, the species name, means “very smooth” or “without hairs” and describes this buttercup’s leaves.
Last March I did a post on the sagebrush buttercup, which can be seen here.
After a long, bitter winter it is so encouraging to see a spring wildflower.