Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

Ficaria verna. F. ranunculoides.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Lesser Celandine
Ranunculus ficaria

The flower petals are an effective tooth cleaner[60]. ( See notes at top of the page before using the petals)

The plant often forms dense carpets when grown in the shade and can therefore be used as a ground cover though they die down in early summer. This should be done with some caution, however, since the plant can easily become an unwanted and aggressive weed in the garden[K].

  • Medicinal Use

    Lesser celandine has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of haemorrhoids and ulcers[254]. It is not recommended for internal use because it contains several toxic components[254].

    The whole plant, including the roots, is astringent[4, 165, 238]. It is harvested when flowering in March and April and dried for later use[4]. It is widely used as a remedy for piles and is considered almost a specific[4, 238]. An infusion can be taken internally or it can be made into an ointment and used externally[4, 238]. It is also applied externally to perineal damage after childbirth[238]. Some caution is advised because it can cause irritation to sensitive skins[244].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves in spring – raw or cooked as a potherb[2, 74, 105, 183]. The first leaves in spring make an excellent salad[9]. The leaves, stalks and buds can be used like spinach[9], whilst the blanched stems are also eaten[46, 183]. The leaves turn poisonous as the fruit matures[74]. Caution is advised regarding the use of this plant for food, see the notes above on toxicity.

    Bulbils – cooked and used as a vegetable[9, 105]. The bulbils are formed at the leaf axils and also at the roots[9, 183]. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

    The flower buds make a good substitute for capers[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    All parts of the plant are poisonous. The toxins are unstable and of low toxicity, they are easily destroyed by heat or by drying[19]. The sap can cause irritation to the skin[65].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. This species doesn’t really need any help from us. Division in spring.
Prefers a moist loamy neutral to alkaline soil in full sun or shade[1, 238]. A very common and invasive weed[17, 90], especially when growing in the shade because this encourages formation of bulbils at the leaf bases[238]. You would regret introducing it into your garden, though it might have a place in the wild garden[90]. This is, however, a polymorphic species[90] and there are a number of named forms selected for their ornamental value[188]. These are normally less invasive than the type species. The plant flowers early in the year when there are few pollinating insects and so seed is not freely produced[4]. The plant, however, produced tubercles (small tubers) along the stems and each of these can grow into a new plant[4]. Grows well along woodland edges[24], and in the deeper shade of the woodland where it often forms dense carpets[4]. The flowers do not open in dull weather and even on sunny days do not open before about 9 o’clock in the morning and are closed by 5 o’clock in the evening[4]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54].
Nost of Europe, including Britain, to W. Asia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.