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Ranunculus ficaria

Ranunculus ficaria L.

Ficaria verna Huds.

Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup, Pilewort, Small Celandine, Lesser Crowfoot, Dusky Maiden

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassMagnoliidaeIncludes magnolias, nutmeg, bay laurel, cinnamon, avocado, black pepper, and many others
OrderRanunculalesBasal (evolved earlier) eudicots, also called “true dicots”
FamilyRanunculaceaeButtercup family
GenusRanunculusFrom Latin rana, “little frog,” because many species grow in moist places
SpeciesficariaFrom Latin rana, “little frog,” because these tend to grow in moist places

About plant names...

Lesser celandine is native to Europe and western Asia. Introduced to North America, it has become naturalized here. It prefers damp shady areas, and weedy places. It often carpets large areas. In many regions it is considered an invasive for its tendency to displace other vegetation, or because it poisons livestock.

Plants: Low-growing, 4-14" (10-35 cm) in height. It is a perennial that stores energy in numerous white finger-like tubers.

Leaves: Leaves are thick, heart-shaped (cordate), spirally arranged, ¾-1½" (1.9-3.8 cm), on long stems (petioles). Leaves are sometimes mottled with darker green patches.

Flowers: Flowers are up to 1" (2.5 cm) around, with 7-12 glossy yellow petal-like tepals, and 3 sepal-like tepals (confused yet?). They appear as early as February, or, further north, from April-May.

Fruits: Achenes are spherical, up to ⅜" (1.3 cm) around.

Sometimes these are confused:

 

Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup, Pilewort, Small Celandine, Lesser Crowfoot, Dusky Maiden)

4/4/2011 · Oregon Ridge State Park, Timonium, MD
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup, Pilewort, Small Celandine, Lesser Crowfoot, Dusky Maiden)

4/6/2012 · North Central Railroad Trail, Sparks, MD
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm)

Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup, Pilewort, Small Celandine, Lesser Crowfoot, Dusky Maiden)

4/8/2012 · North Central Railroad Trail, Monkton Rd, Sparks, MD
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

 
Stylophorum diphyllum
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Ranunculus ficaria

Chelidonium majus
Common Name

Yellow Wood Poppy

Lesser Celandine

Greater Celandine
Plant Plants reach 12-18" (30-45 cm). Stems and leaves exude a bright yellow-orange sap when cut. Low-growing, 4-14" (10-35 cm) in height. It is a perennial that stores energy in numerous white finger-like tubers. Greater celandine reaches 18-24" (45-60 cm) in height, with ribbed stems. Leaves contain an irritating yellow-orange sap.
Flowers Each flower has four partially overlapping yellow petals, two sepals (which fall away early after flowering), a knobby stigma, and multiple yellow-orange stamens. They appear in groups of one to four, and are 1¼-2" (3.2-5.7 cm) around. Flowers May-June. Up to 1" (2.5 cm) around, with 7-12 glossy yellow petal-like tepals, and 3 sepal-like tepals (confused yet?). They appear as early as February, or, further north, from April-May. About ¾" (1.9 cm) around, with four yellow non-overlapping petals, a stiff green central style, and multiple yellow stamens.
Leaves This plant has basal leaves, as well as a pair of opposite leaves on the stem, both up to 6" (15 cm) × 4" (10 cm). Leaves are divided into 3-5 lobes which in turn are further divided, making them bipinnatifid. Leaf surfaces are dark green and hairless, while leaf undersides are pale as a result of fine hairs. Leaf stems (petioles) are up to 4" (10 cm) long. Thick, heart-shaped (cordate), spirally arranged, ¾-1½" (1.9-3.8 cm), on long stems (petioles). Leaves are sometimes mottled with darker green patches. Up to 8" (20 cm) long and 3" (7.6 cm) wide, compound in groups of 5 to 9, green with a slight bluish tint.
Fruit Bristly blue-green ovoid seed pods ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm). Achenes are spherical, up to ⅜" (1.3 cm) around. Seed capsules look like thin beans, ¾-2½" (1.9-6.3 cm) long, with black seeds.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 4-9

USDA Zones: 4-8
Habitats Dry deciduous woodlands, bases of bluffs, and rocky stream banks. It prefers damp shady areas, and weedy places. It often carpets large areas. Moist or dry woods, thickets, fields, hedgerows, roadsides, railroads
Type Wild Wild Wild
Occurrence     Common

 

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones Toxic to people, horses, cattle, sheep, and probably other mammals.

Online References:

Ranunculus ficaria on the Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group Least Wanted List

Ranunculus ficaria on Wikipedia

Ranunculus ficaria at Botanical.com

Ranunculus ficaria on www.iucngisd.org

References:

Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 216

Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup, Pilewort, Small Celandine, Lesser Crowfoot, Dusky Maiden)

4/4/2011 · Oregon Ridge State Park, Timonium, MD
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Ranunculus ficaria description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 24 Jun 2017.

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Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup, Pilewort, Small Celandine, Lesser Crowfoot, Dusky Maiden)

4/8/2012 · North Central Railroad Trail, Monkton Rd, Sparks, MD
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Range:

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