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Caltha palustris L. – Marsh Marigold

General: Early spring, perennial herb, 20–80 cm tall; stems hairless, hollow and succulent; often loosely clumped from coarse roots.


Leaves: Rounded to kidney-shaped, 3–20 cm across, with a bluntly serrated margin and a thick, waxy texture. Stems are hollow.


Flowers: Yellow, 2–5 cm in diameter, with four to nine (mostly five) petal-like sepals and many yellow stamens; they appear in early spring to late summer. The flowers are visited by a great variety of insects for pollen and for the nectar secreted from small depressions, one on each side of each carpel.


Fruits: Recurved capsules (follicles), splitting open along inside wall, many-seeded; early to mid-summer.


Where found: marshes, fens, ditches and wet woodland in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It becomes most luxuriant in partial shade, but is rare on peat.


Notes: As is the case with many members of the family Ranunculaceae, all parts of the plant are poisonous and can be irritant. Skin rashes and dermatitis have been reported from excessive handling of the plant. It is known to sometimes kill cows and will happily grow in cow manure.


Propagation: The marsh-marigold can be propagated by sowing fresh seed on a good quality seed compost as soon as the seed is ripe (in early summer). However, the plant is most easily propagated by division in spring, removing some of the larger leaves to reduce water loss through transpiration (Grow Wild).


Seed germinates at cooler temperatures, sown just covered ideally when fresh in fall; germination is irregular. Propagate also by dividing rootstock early in growing season, after flowering. Sun to shade, moist well-draining soil essential, tolerates clay soil well. Zone 4-9 (Grow'Em Plant Propagation Database).




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