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Marsh Marigold

Caltha palustris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, fields, gardens, grassland, marshes, meadows, parks, riversides, swamps, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
5-8 large glossy yellow sepals, up to 5cm wide. No petals.
A curved capsule.
Dark green, rounded, heart-shaped, glossy, waxy leaves. Long-stalked. Often mottled with pale green markings on the upper surfaces of the leaves.
Other Names:
American Cowslip, Boots, Brave Bassinets, Bullflower, Bull's Eyes, Capers, Coltsfoot, Cow Lily, Cowflock, Cowslip, Crazy Beth, Crazy Bets, Crowfoot, Drunkards, Giant Kingcup, Goldes, Goldings, Golds, Gollins, Gools, Greater Kingcup, Horse Blob, Kingcup, Kingcup Marsh Marigold, Leopard's Foot, Mare Blob, Marybuds, May Blobs, Mayflower, Meadow Buttercup, Meadow Cowslip, Meadow Gowan, Meadow Routs, Meadow-bright, Mollyblobs, Palsy Root, Pollyblobs, Publican's Cloak, Publicans-and-sinners, Soldier's Buttons, Water Blobs, Water Boots, Water Bubbles, Water Cowslip, Water Dragon, Water Goggles, Water Gowan, Yellow Gowan, Yellow Marsh Marigold.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Caltha palustris, also known as marsh marigold, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to the wetlands of Europe and North America. It typically grows to be a small plant, reaching heights of 24 inches. The plant has dark green leaves and produces large, bright yellow flowers that are typically 2-3 inches in diameter. The flowers bloom in the spring, and the plant prefers wetland environments such as marshes and bogs. This plant is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens, and also used for medicinal purposes. It's toxic when ingested and should be handled with care.


Marsh marigold, scientifically known as Caltha palustris, is a fascinating plant species that can be found growing in wetlands, swamps, and marshes across the northern hemisphere. It is a member of the Ranunculaceae family, which also includes buttercups and anemones. The marsh marigold is known for its bright yellow flowers, which bloom in early spring, often before many other plants have started to grow.


Marsh marigold is a perennial herbaceous plant that can grow up to 60 centimeters in height. It has dark green, glossy, rounded leaves that are heart-shaped and have slightly toothed edges. The leaves can grow up to 20 centimeters in diameter, and they are arranged in a rosette at the base of the plant. The stem is smooth and unbranched, and it supports a single flower at the top.

The flower of the marsh marigold is strikingly beautiful. It is bright yellow, with five to nine petal-like sepals that surround a central cluster of yellow stamens. The flower can be up to five centimeters in diameter, and it has a slight scent that is reminiscent of honey. The plant flowers in early spring, usually from March to May, depending on the location.

Habitat and Distribution

Marsh marigold is a plant that is adapted to wet environments. It can be found growing in swamps, marshes, fens, and other wetlands across the northern hemisphere. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and it has been introduced to other parts of the world, including New Zealand and Australia.

Ecological Importance

Marsh marigold is an important plant species for wetland ecosystems. Its leaves provide food for some species of caterpillars, and its flowers provide nectar for early spring pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. The plant's roots also help stabilize the soil in wetlands, reducing erosion and maintaining the water quality.

Cultural Significance

The marsh marigold has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It was used by Native American tribes to treat a variety of ailments, including colds, fever, and rheumatism. The plant contains a range of biologically active compounds, including saponins, alkaloids, and flavonoids, which may have medicinal properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, marsh marigold has also been used in culinary traditions. The leaves can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable, and the flowers can be used to make a yellow dye.

Marsh marigold is a fascinating plant species with a range of ecological, cultural, and medicinal significance. Its bright yellow flowers are a welcome sight in early spring, and its leaves provide important habitat and food for a variety of animals. The plant's historical and cultural uses also highlight its importance to human societies. As we continue to face environmental challenges, it is essential that we recognize and protect the value of plant species like marsh marigold, which are crucial for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

More Information about the Marsh Marigold

The Marsh marigold has several common names including Kingcup, Yellow Marsh Marigold, and Cowslip. The name Kingcup is thought to be derived from the Old English "cyneceoppa," meaning "royal head." This refers to the plant's regal appearance, with its bright yellow flowers standing tall and proud.

The Marsh marigold has also been used in folklore and mythology. In Norse mythology, the plant was associated with Freya, the goddess of love and fertility. In Christian tradition, the plant was known as "Mary's gold" and was said to have bloomed at the time of the Annunciation.

One interesting fact about the Marsh marigold is that it is one of the earliest blooming wildflowers in many regions. This makes it an important food source for early emerging pollinators like bees and butterflies, which are essential for plant reproduction.

Another interesting feature of the Marsh marigold is its ability to grow in a variety of conditions. It is tolerant of wet soils and can even grow in standing water, making it an ideal plant for wetland restoration projects. Its roots are also able to remove excess nutrients and pollutants from the water, making it an important species for improving water quality.

The Marsh marigold has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat various conditions such as digestive disorders, respiratory ailments, and rheumatism. It has also been used externally to treat skin conditions and wounds.

Modern scientific research has shown that the plant contains several bioactive compounds, including saponins, alkaloids, and flavonoids, which may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor properties. These compounds have been studied for their potential use in the treatment of various diseases, including cancer.

Marsh marigold is also a popular plant for water gardens and ornamental landscaping. Its bright yellow flowers add a splash of color to wetland gardens and other water features. In fact, it is one of the few plants that can thrive in standing water, making it an ideal choice for water gardens.

Despite its ecological and cultural importance, Marsh marigold populations have been declining in some regions due to habitat loss and degradation. Wetland destruction and pollution are significant threats to this and many other wetland species. Therefore, efforts to conserve and restore wetlands are critical for the survival of species like the Marsh marigold.

The Marsh marigold is a perennial plant that belongs to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia, but has also been introduced to North America, where it has become naturalized in many regions.

The plant typically grows to be around 1-2 feet tall and has large, rounded leaves that are dark green in color. The bright yellow flowers appear in early spring and are typically 1-2 inches in diameter. Each flower has five to nine petals and a central boss of bright yellow stamens.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, the Marsh marigold has several interesting adaptations that allow it to survive in wetland environments. For example, its leaves are waxy and water-repellent, which helps to prevent them from becoming waterlogged. Its roots are also adapted to absorb nutrients from the anaerobic (oxygen-deprived) soils found in wetlands.

The Marsh marigold is a flowering plant that is often found growing in wetlands, bogs, and other areas with standing water. It is a hardy and adaptable plant, able to survive in a variety of different conditions.

One of the interesting features of the Marsh marigold is its relationship with pollinators. The plant produces nectar to attract bees, butterflies, and other insects, which in turn pollinate the flowers. This mutualistic relationship is essential for both the plant and the pollinators, as the plant needs the pollinators to reproduce, while the pollinators rely on the nectar as a food source.

The Marsh marigold also plays an important role in nutrient cycling in wetland ecosystems. Its roots are able to absorb excess nutrients from the water, which helps to prevent eutrophication (excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants). The plant is also able to store nutrients in its leaves and stems, which are then released back into the ecosystem when the plant dies and decomposes.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, the Marsh marigold has several practical uses. Its leaves and roots have been used to make a yellow dye, while its flowers have been used to produce a natural insecticide. The plant has also been used as a food source, although it is important to note that some parts of the plant are toxic and should not be consumed.

Overall, the Marsh marigold is a valuable and fascinating plant species with many important ecological, cultural, and practical uses. As we work to protect and restore our wetlands and other sensitive ecosystems, it is essential to recognize and appreciate the unique contributions that species like the Marsh marigold make to our natural world.


Golden blooms rise from the earth
Marsh Marigolds, a wetland's mirth
Petals stretch, their heads held high
In the sun's warm embrace, they thrive

Nature's beauty, they do impart
A sight that touches every heart
Reflecting in the crystal stream
Marsh Marigolds, a tranquil dream

Their vibrant hue, a beacon bright
Guiding creatures through the night
Buzzing bees and fluttering wings
Sipping nectar, a joy it brings

Amidst the reeds and mossy ground
Marsh Marigolds, a treasure found
A symphony of sight and sound
Nature's chorus, all around

So if you chance upon this sight
Of Marsh Marigolds in golden light
Take a moment to admire
And let their beauty, your soul inspire.


Video 1: Marsh Marigolds filmed in Duxbury Woods, Lancashire on the 24th March 2023.


Video 2: Marsh Marigolds filmed in Duxbury Woods, Lancashire on the 2nd May 2023.


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