April 19, 2020 at 8:15 am. Stephen Jones. Primrose This plant wants to live! Lesser Celandine is a useful plant for shaded areas to provide colour during spring where little else will grow. Lesser celandine is toxic, when eaten raw or after the plant flowers. Lesser celandine is sometime applied directly to the skin for bleeding wounds and gums, swollen joints, warts, scratches, and hemorrhoids. The leaves appear in late winter, forming a dense mat which prevents the growth of almost every other plant. One of these is Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup). But the leaf, as you can see above, is very similar. It is only edible before flowering, and when cooked. Now, you may be thinking “Oooh, pretty buttercups.” But this plant has some nasty habits that are destroying native spring ephemeral wildflowers. Lesser Celandine This plant is best eaten before it flowers, and should be cooked first because it contains protaonemonin, which is a toxic compound that is destroyed by heat. Don't confuse greater celandine with lesser celandine (Family: Ranunculus ficaria). The Lesser Celandine is distinguished from the Buttercup by having nine or ten, even sometimes a dozen narrow petals, instead of five, and only three sepals (the outer, generally green leaves of the flower), which fall off on opening, instead of the usual five, which remain after the flower has expanded, in the other species of Ranunculus. The fig buttercup, also known as the lesser celandine or pilewort, is a non-native plant from Europe and Northern Africa that has the potential to become a very bad invasive species in South Carolina. Ficaria verna, (formerly Ranunculus ficaria L.) commonly known as Reply. 7. It’s a great source of Vitamin C, but use it before it flowers and make sure to dry it or cook it before eating it as it contains a toxic compound that is destroyed by heat. Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) is a one such “spring ephemeral”—a term typically reserved for the native woodland plants that come and go in this narrow window of time, including many delicate beauties like trout lily and trillium. It was popular in the past for providing vitamin C to otherwise scurvy-prone people. Lesser celandine has three effective secret weapons for survival and spread. You’ll find it especially on wet sandy soils, in both shaded woodlands, and open areas. It spreads effectively and can produce carpets of yellow flowers under trees, on shaded hedge-banks and in woodland. The first is a stockpile of underground tubers produced in the spring that are used to store carbohydrate shipped down from the leaves during their brief spring appearance. 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