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 :
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.
- 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 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.