Build Me Up Buttercup

April 6, 2021

I can’t help but hum that old song by The Foundations as I drive around pastures this spring and see the many yellow flowers of Buttercup. While this is a pretty plant, it contains a toxin that can cause excessive salivation, reddening of oral mucous membranes, diarrhea, and, in rare cases, death. Fortunately, this plant is bitter, and livestock usually do not seek it unless forced to by lack of grazing (or curiosity). However, several of the pastures I’ve been in these past two weeks contain plenty of buttercup plants that were grazed short. Often this plant is found in overgrazed areas, so the best defense against this plant is a healthy perennial forage and good grazing management. However, we often must use a broadleaf herbicide to control this plant. Typically, two pints per acre of 2,4 D will control this plant, especially before it’s in bloom or in early-bloom. Control is difficult by the time you have a pasture full of yellow blooms so scout early and often. You may want to use a higher rate or different herbicide if there are other weeds present. Always follow the label and feel free to seek advice from your agent. If you’re fighting Buttercup yearly, please reach out to me about developing a grazing plan that will provide better canopy cover to help prevent this weed from emerging.

buttercup plant

Buttercup (early-bloom)





Buttercup plant

Buttercup (pre-bloom)


Everest, J.W., Powe, T.A., Freeman, J.D. Poisonous Plants of the Southeastern United States. University of Florida.

Guide to Poisonous Plants. Fort Collins (Colorado). Colorado State University, James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. 2019. [2021 Apr].

South Carolina Pest Management Handbook for Field Crops. Clemson (South Carolina). Clemson University, Cooperative Extension. 2021 [2021 Apr].


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