Eastern Forest Threat Center - Lesser Celandine

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Lesser celandine leaves and flowers

Lesser celandine leaves and flowers

Leslie Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Lesser Celandine
Ranunculus ficaria

Lesser celandine, native to Europe, was introduced into the U.S. as an ornamental.

Keywords: Ranunculaceae, herbaceous, perennial, spring ephemeral, bulblets, tuberous roots, groundcover, dense patches; Common names: fig buttercup

Distribution Map Distribution Source Image

Threat Description

Lesser celandine is an herbaceous, perennial, spring ephemeral plant in the buttercup family. Plants have a basal rosette of dark green, shiny, stalked leaves that are kidney-shaped to heart-shaped. Flowers open in March and April, and have 8-12 glossy, butter-yellow petals that are 1 in. wide, and are borne singly on delicate stalks that rise above the leaves. Pale-colored bulblets are produced along the stems of the aboveground portions of the plant, but are not apparent until late in the flowering period. The root system is made up of a cluster of tuberous roots. Lesser celandine reproduces both by seed and the underground tubers. It occurs in moist forested floodplains and in some drier upland areas, and seems to prefer sandy soils. It is a vigorous growing groundcover that forms large, dense patches on the forest floor, displacing and preventing native plants from co-occurring. The ecological impact of lesser celandine is primarily on the native spring flowering plant community and the various wildlife species associated with them.