Buttercups are symbols of childishness and ingratitude according to The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles.
I don’t get the ingratitude part, but they do remind me of being a child, of finding true delight, amazement, boundless energy to explore woods and fields when spring pulls back the curtain of winter clouds, revealing a world of green and gold, the color of buttercups.
I remember when I first discovered these flowers, when I was about ten, hiding in a low spot in the field behind our house. I visited them there each spring, then one year transplanted some to the northwest corner of our house, where they grew reliably for years.
I also recall a kid’s book I probably still have in the depths of a closet, I think the title was Around and About Buttercup Farm.
It is said that buttercup juice blisters the skin but that it’s also been used as a remedy to cure gout and rheumatism, and, as a tincuture, to cure shingles and sciatica. (Don’t try any of those cures at home, or anywhere.)
This verse by Thomas Campbell (1774-1844) takes me back to childhood springs:
By Thomas Campbell
Ye field flowers! The gardens eclipse you, ‘tis true:
Yet, wildlings of nature! I dote upon you,
For ye waft me to summers of old,
When the earth teemed around me with fairy delight,
And when daisies and buttercups gladdened my sight
Like treasure of silver and gold.