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Caltha palustris - L.

Common Name Marsh Marigold, Yellow marsh marigold
Family Ranunculaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards The whole plant, but especially the older portions, contains the toxic glycoside protoanemonin - this is destroyed by heat[172]. The sap can irritate sensitive skin[172].
Habitats Wet areas in marshes, fens, ditches and wet alder woods[17, 19]. Rare on very base poor peat[17].
Range Much of the northern Temperate zone in Europe, including Britain, N. America and Asia..
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Semi-shade Full sun
Caltha palustris Marsh Marigold, Yellow marsh marigold

Caltha palustris Marsh Marigold, Yellow marsh marigold


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Caltha palustris is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3. It is in flower from March to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, beetles, flies.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Ground Cover; Pond; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

Root - must be well cooked[183]. The raw root should not be eaten[K]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Flower buds - raw, cooked or pickled and used as a caper substitute[142, 183]. Eating the raw flower buds can lead to intoxication[222]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young leaves - raw or cooked[2, 46, 55, 62, 161]. The leaves are harvested in the spring as the plant is coming into flower and is used like spinach after cooking in two or more changes of water[2, 183]. Eating the raw leaves can lead to intoxication[222]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Older leaves, before the plant flowers, can be eaten if they are well cooked[172]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anodyne  Antirheumatic  Antispasmodic  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Expectorant  Irritant  Rubefacient  

Every part of this plant is strongly irritant and so it should be used with caution[4]. The whole plant is anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and rubefacient[21, 172]. It has been used to remove warts and is also used in the treatment of fits and anaemia[4, 21, 172]. The root is antirheumatic, diaphoretic, emetic and expectorant[218, 222]. A decoction is used in the treatment of colds[257]. A poultice of the boiled and mashed roots has been applied to sores[257]. A tea made from the leaves is diuretic and laxative[222, 257]. All parts of the plant can irritate or blister the skin or mucous membranes[222].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers[[100, 115], a saffron substitute[142]. It is used as a dye when mixed with alum, though it is not very permanent[4]. Plants can be grown for ground cover when planted about 45cm apart each way[208].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the waterside, it prefers growing in a sunny position in wet soils or shallow water up to 15cm deep[1, 111, 233], though it will tolerate drier conditions if there is shade from the summer sun[233]. Another report says that it grows best in partial shade[17]. Requires a deep rich slightly alkaline soil[31, 111]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a chalky soil[31]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 7.5. A very ornamental[1] and polymorphic plant[17], there are some named varieties[233]. Plants often self-sow when well sited[208]. A good bee plant[24]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54]. This species is probably the most primitive flower in the British flora[17].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame in late summer[200]. Stand the pots in 2 - 3cm of water to keep the soil wet. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15°c[138]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a tray of water in a cold frame until they are at least 15cm tall. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in early spring or autumn[200]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Caltha leptosepalaWestern Marsh Marigold, Howell's marsh marigold, Sulphur marsh marigoldPerennial0.3 3-7  LMHSNWeWa21 
Caltha leptosepala howellii Perennial0.3 3-7  LMHSNWeWa20 
Caltha natansFloating marsh marigoldPerennial0.3 0-0  LMHSNWeWa11 
Caltha sinogracilis Perennial0.1 -  LMHSNWeWa10 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Nicole Smith   Sun Nov 30 22:57:51 2003

Perrential life span 3-10 yrs. The plant is formed by ayellow sepak growing in cumose clusters.

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Subject : Caltha palustris  
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