Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Buttercups in Greenland

Ranunculus_repens_pryskyřník_plazivý_4Rosemary Power writes:

I’ve heard that if you want to find a Norse farm in Greenland you look for buttercups.  My informant was a non-scholar who was there about 30 years ago and heard this from a local guide.  The inference is that buttercups were imported with the Norse cattle and have somehow survived the medieval cold period.  Any comments would be appreciated.

Response:   Assuming the buttercup in question is creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), a glance through North American floras suggests that this plant is usually considered to be an introduction.  Presumably it came to New World as an agricultural weed, thus in Greenland it might be concluded that  it marks the sites of abandoned Norse farms [RV].

Image:  creeping buttercup; Karelj, Wiki Commons.

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