LESSER CELANDINE

PILEWORT, FOALFOOT, SPRING MESSENGER, GOLDEN GUINEA

Ficaria verna

(Formerly: Ranunculus ficaria)
Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

month8Feb month8mar month8march month8apr month8april month8May

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ8
(7-12)
stem
stem8round
 

9th April 2008, Lancaster Canal, Hest Bank. Photo: © RWD
Carpets the ground on the edges of Woods or in Hedgerows.


9th April 2008, Lancaster Canal, Hest Bank. Photo: © RWD
Single Yellow flowers on stalks barely ten inches high.


10th April 2008, River Ribble, Clitheroe. Photo: © RWD
Deep golden-yellow flowers, dark-green cardioid-lobed leaves on long stalks. A hairless plant.


22 April 2005, Shipley, Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Photo: © RWD
Most flowers have eight widely-separated narrow petals.


29th April 2006, Glasson Dock Branch, Lancaster Canal. Photo: © RWD
But some flowers have between seven and up to twelve petals. The leaves are glossy, as are the petals on the top surface.


26th March 2005, Brinscall, Chorley. Photo: © RWD
The leaves have prominent veins.


21st April, Seathwaite Valley, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Prominently veined leaves outnumber the flowers.


29th April 2006, Glasson Dock Branch, Lancaster Canal. Photo: © RWD
Flowers similar to those of Buttercup. An inner row of short narrow ragged yellow strap-shaped anthers surround the central spherical fruit capsule which is covered in projections rather like an ocean mine. The inner parts of the petals on the upper-side are often a deeper shade of yellow, possibly echoing the pattern of greening on the underside.


25th April 2015, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Chorley, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Upper side of petals are shiny like those of Buttercups.


4th April 2008, Dalegarth, Eskdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Un-opened flowers are spherical. Freshly opened ones greenish at first on the outerside of the petals.


10th May 2013, Ravenglass, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The petals are reddish-orange on the outside especially nearing the apex. Sepals, of which there are 4?, are a similar green to the flower stalk and cupped.


10th May 2013, Ravenglass, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
With yellow anthers.


22nd April 2017, Loggerheads Country Pk, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
One or two petals removed in order to obtain a better view of both the long narrow anthers and developing green fruit.


25th April 2015, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Chorley, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The long strap-shaped anthers are wider near the end third, the pollen giving it a ragged appearance.


28th April 2019, Ancient Woods, Dean Brook, Gathurst, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The white bulbous bulbils on the stems near the roots only occur on some of the 4 sub-species. The bulbils act like tubers (and occur instead of tubers on those species that possess them). The bulbils, like tubers, are capable of growing into new plants, the more bulbils they produce, the more likelihood of more plants growing. The 4 sub-species shown below have a differing number of copies of their genes within each cell. Diploid sub-species (Ficaria verna ssp. fertilis) have 2 sets of the same genes whereas tetraploid species (Ficaria verna ssp. ficariiformis, Ficaria verna ssp. chrysocephala and Ficaria verna ssp. verna) have 4 copies of their genes. The hybrids between any diploid sub-species and tetraploid sub-species results in infertile triploid species, which have 3 copies of their genes.


10th May 2013, Ravenglass, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Sub-species ssp. fertilis: The fruits are green and orb-like.



DOUBLE-FLOWERED

 Mutations Menu

9th March 2008, Parkhurst Forest, Newport, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
The petals are in a stacked rosette. The floret is an abnormal double flower.


9th March 2008, Parkhurst Forest, Newport, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
The whole plant has double-flowers, not just the one floret.


Easily confused with : Marsh Marigold but Marsh Marigold has less shiny leaves which clasp and almost encirle the flowering stem, unlike Lesser Celandine where the leaves are heart-shaped and on stalks. The stems of Marsh Marigold are brownish. The petals of Lesser Celandine are narrower. Although Lesser Celandine also has a variable number of petals, but they are greater in number (7-12) as opposed to only 5-8 petals for Marsh Marigold.

Un-related to : Greater Celandine [a plant with similar name]. Greater Celandine belongs to the Poppy Family, whereas Lesser Celandine to the Buttercup Family. Their only other commonality is the colour of the flower, an orange-juice yellow colour; Greater Celandine has half the number of petals than does Lesser Celandine with 8.

Not to be semantically confused with Celandine Saxifrage (Saxifraga cymbalaria) [a flower belonging to a differing family].

There are four sub-species, the last two being much rarer than the first two :

  • Ficaria verna ssp. chrysocephala (Lesser Celandine) with large flowers (up to 6cm across) with tubers and therefore without bulbils in the leaf axils. Petals mostly 18-25mm long by 9-15mm wide. Tetraploid. Neophyte and a naturalised garden escapee.
  • Ficaria verna ssp. ficariiformis (Lesser Celandine) with large flowers (up to 6cm across). Petals mostly 17-26mm long by 4-12mm wide. Tetraploid. Neophyte and a naturalised garden escapee.
  • Ficaria verna ssp. fertilis (Celandine) with smaller flowers (up to 4cm across) and produces no bulbils but instead has a head full of ripe fruits. Petals mostly 10-20mm long by 4-9mm wide. Diploid. Native throughout the UK.
  • Ficaria verna ssp. verna [formerly Ficaria verna ssp. bulbifer (Bulbiferous Celandine)] with smaller flowers (up to 4cm across) producing no ripe fruits but instead bulbils start to form in the axils of the leaves. This is the more conspicuous and weedy form along lanes etc. Petals 6-11mm long by 2-5mm wide. Tetraploid. Native throughout the UK apart from Shetlands and channel Islands.
The first two have large flowers, up to 6cm across, but are relatively rare occurring in but few hectads, but with the ssp. chrysocephala having erect stems and the ssp. ficariiformis having procumbent stems.

The second two are much more ubiquitous occurring with several exceptions mostly throughout the UK and have smaller flowers, up to 4cm across, with bulbils in the leaf-axils after flowering on both the Bulbiferous Celandine and the ssp. ficariiformis).

Probably both of the latter two forms are represented here.

Lesser Celandine is one of the first plants to flower in spring. The year 2008 was a very good year for it. The flowers are solitary, nominally 8-petalled and shiny yellow. The yellow sometimes giving way to whiteness, especially in very sunny weather. The leaves are also shiny and dark-green, small and variously kidney-shaped.

One of its common names is Pilewort (but there is another plant with that same common name) since it was used for piles, as well as for scurvy, so it must contain a lot of vitamin-C.


  Ficaria verna  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ranunculaceae  

Distribution
family8buttercup family8Ranunculaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8ficaria
Ficaria
(Lesser Celandine)

LESSER CELANDINE

PILEWORT, FOALFOOT, SPRING MESSENGER, GOLDEN GUINEA

Ficaria verna

(Formerly: Ranunculus ficaria)
Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

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