Lesser celandine Ficaria verna

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care


Ficaria verna, commonly known as lesser celandine, is a plant that flaunts a vibrant display of glossy yellow flowers, each consisting typically of eight to twelve petals that radiate around a central cluster of stamens. The blooms present a brilliant contrast against the dark green, heart-shaped leaves, which often possess a slightly waxy texture. These leaves are borne on stalks and form a low-growing, spreading ground cover that can blanket the area where the plant resides. The foliage sometimes displays light to dark green variegations. As the season progresses, the plant bears achenes, which are small, single-seeded fruits that provide a means of propagation. Lesser celandine is notable for the lush carpet it creates, adorned with the golden-yellow hue of its flowers. The visual impact of its appearance is a characteristic sign of spring in areas where it grows.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Pilewort, Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup, Small Celandine, Brighteye, Butter Daisy.

    • Common names

      Ranunculus ficaria L., Ficaria grandiflora Robert, Ficaria verna Huds. subsp. ficariiformis, Ficaria verna Huds. subsp. fertilis, Ranunculus ficariiformis Froel.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Ficaria verna, commonly known as lesser celandine, contains several toxic compounds such as protoanemonin, which can cause irritation when the plant is bruised or broken. If ingested, lesser celandine may cause gastrointestinal distress, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, it can also lead to more severe mouth and throat irritation. Contact with the sap can cause skin irritation or dermatitis in sensitive individuals.

    • To pets

      Lesser celandine has the same toxic properties for pets as it does for humans. The presence of protoanemonin can lead to gastrointestinal upset, and symptoms in pets may include vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling. Contact with the plant, especially if the sap is released, can also cause skin irritation or dermatitis. If a pet ingests a large quantity of lesser celandine, the results could be more severe, and veterinary attention should be sought.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      0 feet 4-6 inches (10-15 cm)

    • Spread

      0 feet 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Erosion control - Ficaria verna has a robust root system that can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on banks and slopes.
    • Pollinator attraction - The flowers of Ficaria verna provide an early source of nectar for bees and other pollinating insects in the spring.
    • Aesthetic value - With its bright yellow flowers, Ficaria verna can add color and beauty to gardens and natural areas during its blooming season.
    • Habitat creation - It provides shelter and breeding spots for various insects and small animals within its foliage and structure.
    • Ground cover - Ficaria verna grows densely and can cover bare spots in gardens, effectively suppressing weeds with its foliage.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Anti-inflammatory: Lesser celandine has been traditionally used to alleviate inflammation, particularly in the case of hemorrhoids.
    • Astringent: The plant contains tannins that contribute to its astringent properties, which may help with wound contraction and healing.
    • Analgesic: Components of lesser celandine may provide pain relief, although scientific evidence to support this use is limited.
    • Antimicrobial: Lesser celandine has been used in folk medicine for its potential antimicrobial effects, which may help in treating skin disorders and infections.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Ficaria verna, commonly known as lesser celandine, can be utilized as a dye plant, providing a yellow dye from its roots when boiled.
    • The glossy leaves of lesser celandine can be used as an alternative wrapping material in place of leaves like grapevine for cooking and preserving food.
    • Lesser celandine has been used traditionally to polish wood, as its leaves contain a high amount of saponins that can give a natural shine to wooden items.
    • The sap of lesser celandine can be applied to tools to prevent rust; however, care should be taken as it can irritate the skin.
    • When planted in shaded garden areas, lesser celandine can be used as a ground cover to prevent soil erosion.
    • The reflective properties of its glossy leaves can be placed in garden areas to enhance light distribution to plants that thrive in partial shade.
    • Despite being considered invasive, lesser celandine can be utilized in controlled permaculture designs to outcompete other more aggressive invasive species.
    • The flowers of lesser celandine can be used in floral arrangements to provide bright, cheerful yellow accents in early spring.
    • In some regions, dried lesser celandine has been added to compost piles as green matter to activate the composting process due to its quick decay when it dies back in summer.
    • Used in myth and folklore, lesser celandine often appears in stories and poems as a symbol of the return of spring and has been used in seasonal celebrations.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Lesser Celandine is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Lesser Celandine is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Renewal: Ficaria verna, commonly known as lesser celandine, blooms early in the spring, often being one of the first plants to flower, and thus symbolizes new beginnings and the renewal that comes with the season.
    • Resilience: Lesser celandine is known for its hardiness and its ability to thrive in many conditions, so it represents the quality of resilience and the capability to endure challenging situations.
    • Hope: The bright yellow flowers of lesser celandine are seen as a sign of hope and optimism as they signal the end of winter and the start of a fertile and abundant period.
    • Adaptability: The plant's ability to adapt to various habitats and to spread quickly symbolizes adaptability and the capacity to flourish in a variety of circumstances.
    • Transient Beauty: Lesser celandine has a short blooming period, which is often seen as a metaphor for the fleeting nature of beauty and life, reminding observers to cherish the present.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    The lesser celandine should be watered moderately, as it prefers moist but well-drained soil. During the growing season, ensure the soil remains damp by watering it with approximately 1 inch of water weekly. Adjust the frequency during periods of heavy rainfall or drought, but be cautious not to waterlog the soil, which can lead to root rot. During the dormant season, reduce watering significantly to prevent the soil from becoming too soggy.

  • sunLight

    Lesser celandine thrives in partial shade to full shade conditions. The ideal spot for the lesser celandine would be an area that receives filtered sunlight or a location with morning sun and afternoon shade. Avoid areas where the plant will be subjected to direct, harsh afternoon sunlight, as this can be detrimental to its growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Lesser celandine grows best in a temperature range of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive minimum temperatures down to about 28 degrees Fahrenheit, but for optimal growth, keep it within the ideal range. It is not tolerant of extreme heat, so it's important to protect it from temperatures exceeding 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning lesser celandine is necessary primarily to control its spread, as it is an aggressive grower. Trim the plants back after they have flowered in the spring to prevent excessive self-seeding. Pruning can be done yearly, usually right after the blooming period, to keep the plant's growth in check.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Lesser celandine prefers moist, well-drained soil with high organic matter content. The best soil mix can be composed of loam, peat, and sand, maintaining a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Lesser celandine is rarely grown in pots and seldom needs repotting due to its growth as an outdoor perennial. It can spread aggressively if conditions are ideal.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Lesser celandine thrives in average to high humidity conditions typical of its natural woodland habitats, without the need for specific humidity level adjustments.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place celandine in bright, indirect light with moist soil.

    • Outdoor

      Plant celandine in part-shade, moist soil, and space well.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Ficaria verna, commonly known as lesser celandine, begins its life cycle as a dormant tuber underground, which sprouts in late winter or early spring. The first stage involves the emergence of glossy, heart-shaped leaves followed by bright yellow flowers with numerous petals, typically between March and May. After flowering, the plant undergoes pollination, which leads to the production of achenes (fruit). These achenes either fall nearby or are dispersed to new locations, ensuring the spread of the plant. In late spring to early summer, the above-ground foliage of lesser celandine dies back, and the plant enters a period of dormancy during the summer months. The plant remains in this dormant stage until environmental conditions trigger the next growing season, completing its annual life cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • The most popular method of propagating Ficaria verna, commonly known as lesser celandine, is through its tuberous roots. Optimal propagation time is just after the plant has finished flowering in the spring, or in the fall when the plant is dormant. To propagate, carefully dig up the tuberous roots, ensuring not to damage them. You can then divide the roots into smaller pieces, each piece containing at least one growth bud. Replant the divisions immediately into moist soil at a depth of roughly 2 inches (about 5 centimeters), spacing them about 4 to 6 inches apart (10 to 15 centimeters). Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged to encourage the roots to establish in their new location. In the right conditions, lesser celandine will spread quickly, so it's important to manage its growth to prevent it from becoming invasive.