Monday, April 11, 2011

Invasive/Edible: Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine/Fig Buttercup)

It is always such a shame when stunningly beautiful plants turn out to be horrifically invasive.Ranunculus ficaria is just that. It was brought to the US as an ornamental plant - and why not? Look at this!

Super pretty, right? Especially when you consider bloom times. Ranunculus ficaria is right in the middle of its bloom cycle, meaning it is an early spring flower. And the brightness of that little yellow buttercup is certainly welcome in the spring.

However.

This pretty little plant is REALLY GOOD at growing. It has thick roots that will form brand new plants from just a sliver. If you're weeding this from your lawn and are not careful how you dispose of it, chances are it will grow a new population where ever it lands. And when it takes hold of an area is forms a carpet:

Basically this is one of the most noxious invasive weeds.

This is a pretty easy plant to spot. The leaves are deply veined and are heart shaped. This time of year the yellow 8 petaled flower (about the size of your thumb) is sticking up on a stalk higher than the green leafy carpet below. The trick to this plant is finding it now. It is a perennial, but once the heat of the summer sets in the leaves go dormant and all that is left is below ground till the leaves emerge in the winter once again.



Supposedly the leaves are high in vitamin C, but I'm not well-versed enough in eating lesser celandine to know more than that.


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