Ficaria verna

ganglionn@Flickr (aka Adem) from Turkey contributes another photograph to Botany Photo of the Day today (via the BPotD Flickr Pool): Ficaria verna (Ranunculus ficaria is a synonym). Thank you!

Ficaria verna is known commonly in English as fig buttercup or lesser celandine. It is native to much of Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. In North America, where it was introduced as an ornamental plant, it has become an invasive of floodplain forests and some upland sites on the east and west sides of the continent. It is one of the earliest plants to sprout, bloom and seed in the spring (verna means “spring”). The species also vegetatively propagates through bulblets and tubers, permitting it to form dense mats. When mass carpets are formed, it suppresses other (typically native) plants, presumably through shading and / or nutrient uptake.

Ficaria verna

10 responses to “Ficaria verna”

  1. Peony Fan

    A weed,yes. But such a beautiful photograph! Thank you.

  2. John Scarlis

    Don’t make the mistake I made! When I saw these flowers every spring I thought they were Marsh Marigold. I thought “it would be nice to have them in our yard and they go away in summer” Well! Now I am thinking about digging up half the yard or the horror of using Roundup (Glyphosate). Lesser Celandine spreads fast. I should have investigated before I made such a move.

  3. elizabeth a airhart

    i am called little buttercup
    dear little buttercup,
    though i could never tell why
    but still i ‘m called buttercup
    poor little buttercup
    sweet little buttercup !

  4. Bill Barnes

    Glyphosate works only if the plants have been etiolated first . To do this , cover with a sheet of plywood or some other opaque object and leave for about a week , the foliage will have turned yellow. Remove the cover and spray , the plants cannot stand up to Round up then.

  5. Tobi

    Ere a leaf is on a bush,
    In the time before the Thrush
    Has a thought about its nest,
    Thou wild come with half a call,
    Spreading out thy glossy breast
    Like a careless Prodigal;
    Telling tales about the sun,
    When we’ve little warmth, or none.
    William Wordsworth

  6. Sue Frisch

    I first saw this plant growing by the glorious thousands along a stream beside the Hutchinson River Parkway in Westchester County just above New York City, and I next saw it in several front yards in Brooklyn. One house owner gave me several plants and i planted them in the moist field that starts just beyond my garden in extreme northwestern Connecticut (zone 5a, elevation 1250).
    The original plants have persisted for 20 years in spite of competition from grass, asters and goldenrod, but i didn’t think they were doing more than holding their own and so felt very safe. But having read the above I went out and checked, and it looks like the clumps have enlarged this year….I’m heading for the shovel!
    Ironically, the desire to get rid of the Ficaria is spurred by a bad experience with Anemone canadensis (threatened in Connecticut), which I mistakenly planted in my perennial bed. I ended up hiring someone to help me dig the top 6 inches off that bed and take it to the dump…and it will never be gone from here.
    Another example: last year my husband and I were in North Carolina in time to see miles of woods choked by wisteria that had escaped from gardens, and areas where Bradford pears had naturalized. Too bad people can’t see farther into the future. Am I correct that UBC is doing research along these lines?

  7. Steve Edler

    Here in Norfolk, England we know it as Ranunculus ficaria. There are two subspecies viz ficaria diploid & bulbilfer tetraploid or that was what they were called in the 1990s. Is it the latter that is the pest or are they both equally guilty?
    Sorry, I don’t know how to get italics up for the Latin names.

  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Sue, yes, there are UBC researchers at both campuses working on invasive plants.
    Steve, I did come across reference to the diploid / tetraploid difference, but didn’t find anything that did a comparative study of the two variants. I would pose as a hypothesis that the tetraploid variant is the more aggressive pest, due in part to the localized spreading by bulblets and the long-distance dispersal that intact bulblets can do via water courses.

  9. Tracy

    I see celendine used as a descriptor of several species but am unable to find a definition or from where the word is derived. Any help?

  10. Daniel Mosquin

    Tracy, there’s a definition on, though I am not sure I quite understand the basis for why the term is applied to the plant.

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