Alpine Flower a Day: Mount Cook Buttercup

Alpine Flower a Day: Day 8, Mount Cook Buttercup (Ranunculus lyallii)

– world's largest buttercup, the size of a rose - spectacular alpine flower in our South Island National Parks

– taken late Dec 2019 Dobson Walk, Arthur's Pass National Park

Lesley’s painting


The mountains are pale white

fingers against a gold-blue sky.

There’s darkness but no dark

elbows of birds in flight.


There are green daubs of vegetation,

wavy, yes, but no green tracks

angling to a haystack horizon.


The mountains that rise to pale fingers

have gold flanks, cut by maroon

gashes that do not

mimic the shape of dark birds


In the foreground, here,

are smudges of brown. Not so much

to suggest the earth that gives rise


to the stacked gold grass.

What you first see, suspended in green,

are the buttercups, a pale white


geometry of petals,

picked up in the pale white elbows

of the rising ridge



One buttercup petal drops

lemon yellow – a trip

for the eye. There are no


buttercups in Van Gogh’s

wheatfield, but pale white clouds

suspended in the dark blue sky.





If you're interested in the inspiration behind this month-long series of 'An Alpine Flower A Day' about NZ alpine flowers and poems, you can find more in my first post: An Alpine Flower A Day Enjoy!

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