Species of the Month: Lesser Celandine
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February Species of the Month: Lesser Celandine
Scientific Name: Ficaria verna
The lesser celandine is a member of the buttercup family. It is a small, low growing plant with glossy yellow flowers. The long-stalked leaves are heart-shaped and mottled dark green. Underground it has small, knobbly tubers.
Usually flowering between February and May, this is one of the first spring woodland flowers to appear. At it is an important early source of nectar and pollen for insects, especially those emerging from hibernation (eg. queen bumblebees) who will desperately need an energy-boost!
The leaves first appear in late winter but disappear after flowering in May, when the plant enters a six-month dormancy.
Although lesser celandine does produce seed, it mainly propagates vegetatively and spreads easily from fragments broken from the knobbly, underground tubers (bulbils).
Did you know?
Lesser celandine flowers close at night and this is believed to reduce the rate of grazing by deer and slugs. The flowers also close when it rains (to protect anthers & stamens) - which is why they were believed to predict the weather!
The leaves contain lots of vitamin C and were used to prevent scurvy.
Due to the knobbly shape of the tubers, the plant also bears the name ‘pilewort’ as it was thought to cure haemorrhoids!
Where can they be found?
Wildlife gardening tips
Lesser celandine is a great early food source for lots of insects and is attractive ground cover in shady situations.
It spreads easily forming a yellow carpet of flowers in spring. Light weeding to remove the knobbly bulbils will control it. Having it in your garden is a great way to help prevent insect decline! Take Action for Insects
Species of the Month sightings form
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