Celadine Ranunculus ficaria
Qualities of Lesser Celadine
Common Name: Celadine Latin : Ranunculus ficaria Family: Ranunculaceae
History and/or use: Called Pile wort to treat haemorrhoids. Its rootlets can be fried as tasty food.
Wildlife Value: Early nectar provider.
Before the hawthorn leaves unfold,
Or buttercups put forth their gold,
By every sunny footpath shine
The stars of Lesser Celandine.
Cicely Mary Barker
This delightful plant brightens our native woodlands as one of the first to flower going through until the bluebells and wild garlic begin to blossom. As the cuckoo flower is a harbinger of the cuckoo, celadine is said to be the harbinger of the swallow which the plant is named after as the word celadine is rooted in the Greek word for this bird.
Its starry flowers are upon dark green heart-shaped leaves which have patches of light and dark colourings. The plant invites early pollinators and will therefore be of use to queen bees and other hibernating insects which will feed on its nectar.
Wordsworth praised the plant above all others and dedicated a poem to it, below is the last verse of his poem where he calls it a prophet of delight and mirth.
Prophet of delight and mirth,
Scorned and slighted upon earth!
Herald of a mighty band,
Of a joyous train ensuing,
Singing at my heart's command,
In the lanes my thoughts pursuing,
I will sing, as doth behove,
Hymns in praise of what I love!
Lesser celadine humbly hugs the earth and if you stoop low enough you can uproot this plant if you have permission and it is in abundance to taste its small rootlets. When the tubers of this plant are fried I feel they have a taste reminiscent of pine nuts. Starchy roots providing valuable calories were very appreciated by our ancestors. The leaves can be cooked but only if collected before it flowers.
If you have any medical conditions please check with a medical herbalist first before taking any plant and only harvest it if you are 100% sure what it is!
These rootlets are used to treat corns, warts and haemorrhoids and are a typical example of what is known as the doctrine of signatures in ancient classical herb lore. The doctrine of signatures is based on the concept that plants represent the ailment that they cure. A use that is less known is the petals and leaves have been used for cleaning teeth.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.