Species of the month

Species of the Month: Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandie © Chris Lawrence

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Our Species of the Month species surveys are an important way you can help us.  Records are sent to DERC (Dorset Environmental Records Centre) who collate this information to build up a picture of the of the state of Dorset's wildlife. So please help us help wildlife by filling in the form below. Thank you!

February Species of the Month: Lesser Celandine

Scientific Name: Ficaria verna

Identification

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. 

Lesser Celandie © Chris Lawrence

Lesser Celandie © Chris Lawrence

Foodplant of

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! 

Lifecycle

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?

Lesser celandine is found on damp soil in woodlands, hedgerows along streams and in gardens. 

You may see lesser celandine at one of our reserves, including: 

 Greenhill Down  

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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Blue tit © Stewart Canham