|Weediness:||Weedy, invasive in parts of North America|
|Toxicity and edibility:||Toxic to humans and livestock|
The greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) is a yellow-flowering poppy, native to Europe and the Mediterranean basin. It is also widespread in North America, having been brought there by settlers as a herbal remedy for skin problems such as warts as early as 1672. The whole plant is toxic, containing a range of alkaloids, such as Chelerythrine; it may also cause contact dermatitis, particularly the latex.
The greater celandine is the only species in the genus Chelidonium, and is not closely related to the lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria).
Greater celandine plants may reach 80 cm high, with deeply divided, 30-cm long leaves. The flowers comprise four yellow petals, each about 1 cm long, and are produced from May to July. The seeds are small and black, and possess an elaiosome, which attracts ants to disperse the seeds (myrmecochory). A double-flowered variety, a naturally occurring mutation, also exists.
The plant was formerly used by gypsies as a foot refresher; modern herbalists use its purgative properties. The plant is toxic and should not be used without supervision.
Pests and Diseases
- Howard, Michael. Traditional Folk Remedies (Century, 1987) p.146-7
- Blanchan, Neltje (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.