lesser celandine

Ficaria verna

   

Family: Ranunculaceae

Other common names: fig buttercup, pilewort, figroot buttercup, figwort, bulbous buttercup, small crowfoot

Weed Class: B

Year Listed: 2014

Native to: Asia, Europe, North Africa

Toxic: humans, livestock

Other Legal Listings:

additional photos

 

   

Why is it a noxious weed?

Lesser celandine outcompetes and excludes native plants. It emerges before most other spring ephemeral plants which can give it a competitive advantage over our native understory plant communities. It is invasive, difficult to control and is spreading in Washington.

How would I identify it?

General Description: It is a highly variable, hairless perennial with club-shaped, tuberous roots. Plants grow up to around 12 inches tall in a mounded rosette with basal and stem leaves. Solitary yellow flowers bloom at stem tips and form clusters of achenes.

Flower Description: Flowers are typically soliary on stem tips. They are around 1 inch wide. Flowers have 3 (sometimes 4) pale green sepals and typically 7-13 yellow petals. Flower color may vary depending on cultivars.

Leaf Description: Plants have basal and stem leaves. Basal and lower stem leaves have longer petioles. Leaves are medium to dark green, often paler on their undersides. They are oblong, heart or triangular in shape with edges that can be smooth or have rounded teeth.

Stem Description: Stems grow up to 16 inches, growing up and outward. Pale aerial bulbils can form in leaf axils, and when they fall to the ground can sprout and grow into a new plant.

Fruit/Seed Description: The fruit is a globular shaped cluster of achenes. Each achene contains a single seed.

May be confused with: The native yellow marsh marigold, Caltha palustris, also in the same family, may be confused with lesser celandine. Yellow marsh marigold does not have tuberous roots like lesser celandine. Also, marsh marigold does not produce bulbils. Lesser celandine flowers have distinct sepals and petals while marsh marigold only has petal-like sepals. See our written findings for more information.

How does it reproduce?

Depending on the subspecies, plants can reproduce by movement of its tuberous roots, by the bulbils on its stem and also by seed. Tubers and bulbils are easily dislodged and spread by mowing, moving soil and plant parts, as well as by flooding.
 

Where does it grow?

Lesser celandine grows in a variety of habitats from moist, shaded woodlands, wetlands, streambanks and riverbanks to lawns, landscaped areas and roadsides. It is has been primarily found in Western Washington, with the largest number of sites in Whatcom County.
 

How do I control it?

General Control Strategy

This is a difficult plant to control since it can spread so successfully by vegetative means, and with the limited time the plant have above ground growth, timing control efforts can be a challenge. Soil and plant parts need to be properly disposed of as bulbils and tubers can be accidentally dispersed during control efforts. Persistent monitoring and follow up control work will be needed. Prevent its introduction by not planting lesser celandine or its cultivars. Instead, select non-invasive and native plants toplant in your landscape.

Mechanical Control

Small infestations can be controlled by hand digging, making sure to remove all plant parts. Any remaining roots or bulbils can sprout into new plants. Bag and dispose of plant parts, do not put in home compost. Mowing is not recommended for control as it may spread bulbils and seeds.

Cultural Control

Sheet mulching with wood chips can effectively smoother the plants, but only if the layer isthick, around six inches deep.

Biological Control

There are currently no biological control agents available for lesser celandine.

Herbicide Control

The use of a systemic herbicide may provide control for large infestations as it kills the entire plant, including the roots, and minimizes soil disturbance. In order to have the greatest negative impact on lesser celandine and the least impact to desirable plants, herbicide should be applied in late winter-early to spring, before most native herbaceous plants have started to grow and before lesser celandine flowers. Glyphosate, a non-selective herbicide is recommended for controlling lesser celandine. Please refer to the written findings, the PNW Weed Management Handbook for information on herbicides or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.
 

For more information

 
See our Written Findings for more information about lesser celandine (Ficaria verna).
Oregon Department of Agriculture lesser celandine information
Whatcom County Noxious Weed Board lesser celandine information - general
Whatcom County Noxious Weed Board lesser celandine information - control

Additional Photos


 
 

 


flowering

 


less celandine infestation

 


flowering plants

 


roots

 


bulbils on stem at bases of leaf petioles

 


plants blooming in April

 


infestation by a creek

 


in bloom

 


double-flower cultivar

 


leaf blade shape

 


example of doubl-flower with three sepals

 


close up of double-flower

 


bulbil developed in leaf axil

 


deer grazing on lesser celandine

 


deer grazing lesser celandine

    

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