Each spring we welcome the return of abundant flowers and cherish them as they lift our spirits. Unfortunately, some of these beautiful plants have proven to be aggressive and ultimately highly unwanted. Look out for this one! One such menace is Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) which displaces more desirable plants in lawns, gardens, parks, and […]
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Lesser celandine, fig buttercup, bulbous buttercup, small crowfoot
Ranunculus ficaria (syns. Ficaria verna)
Lesser celandine is an herbaceous, perennial plant in the buttercup family. It has a basal rosette of dark green, shiny, stalked leaves that are kidney to heart-shaped. It has eight glossy, butter-yellow petals, and is borne singly on delicate stalks that rise above the leaves. Pale-colored bulblets are produced along the stems of the above ground portions of the plant, but are not apparent until late in the flowering period. When in bloom, large infestations of appear as a green carpet with yellow dots, spreading across the forest floor. There are many varieties of lesser celandine including a double-flowered form with many crowded petals and dark green leaves mottled with silvery markings. The primary reproductive method is the formation of turions that are produced on the roots in large numbers. They are easily moved in contaminated dirt or by water.
Height of mature plants
3 to 24 inches
March to April
Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) is a similar native species which grows in much wetter marshy habitats than lesser celandine.
It prefers shaded to partially shaded sites though it can thrive in full sun with adequate soil moisture. Deciduous woods are an excellent habitat for this species enabling the plant to grow and bloom well before leaf initiation in the forest canopy.
Lesser celandine forms dense patches leading to the exclusion of many low-growing forbs especially earlyblooming native wildflowers. Lesser celandine escaping from private plantings quickly overwhelm flowerbeds and lawns. Contaminated garden loam applied to new lawns can create problems in a few short years. Because of the bulbous nature of the root system, control can be difficult. Bulb fragments are easily overlooked during manual control, leading to reinfestation. Chemical control must be timed for optimal kill but the nonselective nature of certain herbicides can lead to nontarget impacts on desirable plants. Cultivars of lesser celandine continue to be sold through catalogs and nurseries nationwide.
Noxious Weed Listing:
- WeedWise: Maintenance
- State of Oregon: Class B
- State of Washington: Not listed
- Four County CWMA: Class B