Lesser Celandine - Ficaria verna - or Ranunculus ficaria - Hebrides wildflowers

Sea Campion - Western Isles Wildflowers
Lesser Celandine - Yellow wildflowers
You can see these lovely yellow flowers the lesser celandine all over The Western Isles. creating a carpet like effect.

Wordsworth's favourite - not daffodils

These flowers herald the beginning of Spring and surprisingly it was the lesser celandine that Wordsworth loved best - not daffodils.

Three Wordsworth Poems about Celandine
Wordsworth wrote three poems about them as well as arranging that they be carved on his tomb.


Native Wildflowers of The Western Isles
Lesser Celandine - most of the flowers have 8 petals, but you often can see flowers with up to 12 glossy petals backed by three sepals.

It is a member of the buttercup family and a British native wild plant. The flowers are about one inch across and vary in height from two inches to six inches. The plant emerges in spring from a knot of tubers. The flowers open wide when in daylight or bright sun and they actually close just before it begins to rain!

Western Isles Past Uses

It is said that here in the Western Isles, Lesser Celandine roots were believed to look like a cow’s udder, and the people here used to hang the plants in their cow byres to ensure high milk yields.

Pollination by Bees
The lesser celandine flowers are pollinated by bumble bees, flies and beetles, but very few seeds are typically set.

As the flowers open when few insects are around the spread is mainly vegetative by tiny bulbils which grow in the leaf axils and drop onto the soil when the plant dies back.

Nutrients Stored Underground
The nutrients for the plant are stored in the underground in the root-tubers.

This allow the plant to spread - they break away from the roots and then these become the new plants for the next following year.

Latin Name Derivation
The name Ranunculus ( the family name for that all buttercup like flowers belong) in Latin means "little frog", like frogs this plant thrives best in very wet places, near streams or ditches or woodlands. The second part of its name "ficus" so called, because its tubers resemble bunches of figs.

The very glossy leaves have prominent veins and there are lots of leaves, many more leaves than flowers. The hairless leaves, heart-shaped grow spirally around long weak, stalks.

The leaves sometimes mottled with light or dark markings lie flat on the ground unless held up by surrounding plants. Often other wildflowers can be seen hiding under the leaves. The leaves and flowers die back completely in late spring.

Celtic Name
The Celts called it Grian (sun) as its petals close up before rain

Not Related to The Greater Celandine
Despite its name, it is not actually a close relative of Greater Celandine, and is a member of the buttercup family instead.

The plant was originally named a celandine because its flowers resembled those of the greater celandine.

Botanically speaking, the greater celandine is very different and a member of the Poppy family. The lesser celandine is a member of the buttercup family

Click pictures below for larger photographs
Lesser Celandine - Western Isles Yellow wildflowers
Sea Campion - A Carpet of Wildflowers - Ghioridail - Tolsta

New Plants
The lesser celandine plant dies back around May or June and remains dormant throughout the rest of summer, autumn, and winter.
Also known as pilewort, it was used to treat haemorrhoids. It is said to contain Vitamin C. The tiny yellow wildflowers, seen all over The Western Isles are really very pretty.

Medicinal Uses - BUT Also Poisonous when Older
The lesser celandine plant has mildly soothing properties, indeed young leaves can be boiled like spinach or eaten in a salad, and the flower buds are a substitute for capers.

However, actually, once the flower arrives quite toxic and poisonous and the sap can cause irritation to the skin and in fact is it said that Lesser celandine may cause hepatitis or liver damage.

Greek Name
The word celandine comes from the Greek word chelidon which means "swallow" (as in the bird)

This lovely yellow wildflower comes into flower early on in the year about the same time as swallows arrive and withers as the swallows depart.

Common Names
This lovely yellow wildflower is often called the "spring messenger" - as it appears quite early in the year. It sometimes as early as March and therefore heralds spring.

This lovely yellow wildflower seen all over The Western Isles is sometimes also known as Pilewort, Smallwort, Brighteye, and Cheesecups.

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