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Lesser Celandine

Ficaria verna

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
25 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, lawns, wasteland, woodland.

Yellow, 8 petals
7-12 glossy yellow petals up to 3cm wide, sometimes fading to white. Flowers only opening in sunshine.
Pale and globular.
The leaves are dark green, heart-shaped and long stalked. The leaves often contain light patches on them.
Other Names:
Brighteye, Bulbous Buttercup, Butter and Cheese, Cheesecups, Dusky Maiden, Fig Buttercup, Figroot, Figwort, Frog's Foot, Golden Guineas, Lesser Crowfoot, Pileroot, Pilewort, Small Celandine, Small Crowfoot, Smallwort, Spring Messenger.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Ficaria verna, also known as fig buttercup or lesser celandine, is a species of flowering plant in the poppy family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and has been introduced to other parts of the world as a weed. The plant is known for its bright yellow flowers and glossy, lobed leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including fields, gardens, and waste areas. Ficaria verna is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 30 cm in height. It is commonly found in disturbed areas and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. The plant is toxic to livestock, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. It is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna), also known as fig buttercup, is a spring-blooming herbaceous perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Ranunculaceae family and is related to other popular garden plants such as buttercups, anemones, and clematis.

The plant's leaves are rounded, with a distinctive heart-shaped base, and are a deep green in color. In the spring, the plant produces a profusion of bright yellow flowers that are held above the leaves on delicate stems. The flowers are cup-shaped, with numerous petals and a distinctive center, and they have a sweet, delicate fragrance.

One of the most interesting features of Lesser Celandine is its short lifespan. Although it is a hardy plant, it only lives for a few weeks, which makes it a great choice for gardeners who are looking to add a burst of bright yellow color to their gardens in the early spring. It is also a popular choice for naturalizing in woodland gardens, as it is well-suited to growing in shaded areas.

The plant's leaves are edible and have a slightly bitter taste that is similar to that of watercress. They can be used in salads or cooked as a vegetable, and they are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. In some parts of the world, the leaves are used to make a traditional herbal tea that is said to have a number of health benefits.

Lesser Celandine is a hardy plant that is easy to grow, and it is tolerant of a wide range of soils. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and will thrive in partial shade or full sun. Once established, it is a low-maintenance plant that does not require any special care, making it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for an easy-to-grow spring-blooming plant.

Lesser Celandine is a beautiful, low-maintenance plant that is perfect for adding a burst of bright yellow color to your garden in the early spring. Whether you are looking to naturalize a woodland area, or simply want to add some color to your garden, this plant is well worth considering.

In addition to its ornamental value, Lesser Celandine also has a number of medicinal properties. The plant's roots contain a number of active compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and antispasmodic effects. For this reason, the plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, including digestive problems, skin conditions, and respiratory issues.

Despite its many benefits, Lesser Celandine can also be a problematic plant in some areas. In North America, for example, it is considered an invasive species that can quickly spread and outcompete native plants. For this reason, gardeners should be careful when planting this species and should consider alternative plants that are less likely to become invasive.

Lesser Celandine is a fascinating plant that has a lot to offer gardeners and herbalists alike. Whether you are looking for a beautiful, low-maintenance spring-blooming plant, or you are interested in its medicinal properties, this plant is definitely worth considering. Just be sure to be mindful of its potential to become invasive in some areas, and consider alternative plants if this is a concern.

Another aspect of Lesser Celandine worth mentioning is its cultural significance. Throughout history, the plant has been associated with spring and renewal, and it has been celebrated in folklore, literature, and art. For example, in medieval Europe, the plant was associated with Easter and was thought to have healing properties. In some cultures, the plant was also used to celebrate the arrival of spring and was used in various festivals and rituals.

Despite its cultural significance, Lesser Celandine is often viewed as a weed by modern gardeners and is often removed from gardens and natural areas. However, if managed properly, the plant can be a valuable addition to any garden or natural area, providing not only beauty but also a connection to our cultural heritage.

Finally, it's important to note that Lesser Celandine is toxic to animals and should be kept away from pets and livestock. While the plant is not harmful to humans, it is best to handle it with care, as some people may experience skin irritation when in contact with the sap.

Lesser Celandine is a plant with a rich cultural heritage and a variety of uses, from ornamental to medicinal. It is a beautiful, low-maintenance plant that can add color and interest to your garden, and its cultural significance makes it a valuable addition to any collection. Just be sure to handle it with care and keep it away from pets and livestock, as it can be toxic to animals.

It's also worth mentioning that Lesser Celandine is a relatively hardy plant and can withstand a range of growing conditions. It is not fussy about soil type, but does prefer moist, well-drained soils and will grow in partial shade or full sun. The plant is also resistant to pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance option for gardeners.

One final thing to note is that Lesser Celandine can self-seed, which means that it can spread easily and quickly become invasive in some areas. Gardeners who are concerned about this should either remove the plant after it has flowered or choose a different spring-blooming plant that is less likely to become invasive.

In conclusion, Lesser Celandine is a valuable addition to any garden or natural area, providing beauty and cultural significance, as well as a range of uses from ornamental to medicinal. While it can be invasive in some areas, it is a relatively hardy plant that is easy to grow and care for, making it a great choice for gardeners looking for a low-maintenance, spring-blooming plant. Just be sure to keep it away from pets and livestock, as it is toxic to animals, and be mindful of its potential to self-seed and become invasive.


Amidst the green and verdant fields,
Where gentle breezes blow,
The celandines bloom bright and bold,
Their petals all aglow.

Their sunny faces turn towards the sun,
As if to soak up every ray,
And spread their yellow brilliance wide,
To brighten up the day.

Their petals soft as feathers,
Flutter gently in the breeze,
A sight that fills the heart with joy,
And brings the soul great ease.

Oh, celandines, your beauty rare,
Is like a ray of sun,
That lights up every corner,
And makes our hearts sing and run.

So let us all rejoice in you,
And cherish every bloom,
For in your gentle, peaceful way,
You bring such sweet perfume.


Lesser Celandine's filmed in Adlington, Lancashire, on the 3rd April 2022.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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