Ranunculus plants are wild flowers found in Palestine, and still grow there near Lake Galilee.
The name is derived from the Latin words ‘rana’ meaning “frog” and ‘unculus’ meaning “little”. This is because the plants grow near streams, and bloom in the spring - just the time that frogs appear.
The Ranunculus is a large family of plants. Members of the family (genus) are known as buttercups, spearworts and water crowfoots. The buttercup in particular is a well-known plant in Scottish fields. The name buttercup may come from a false belief that the plants give butter its characteristic yellow hue and a popular children's game in the North-East involves holding a buttercup up to the chin, where a yellow reflection is supposed to indicate a fondness for butter!
Buttercups commonly grow in pastures near streams and associated with images of cattle grazing: they are in fact poisonous to cows and other livestock.
The only biblical reference for Ranunculus (fitches) is in Isaiah 28:25-27 where the plant referred to is black cummin. “ When they have leveled its surface, do they not scatter dill, sow cummin, and plant wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border? For they are well instructed; their God teaches them. Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cummin; but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cummin with a rod.”