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Toxic parts

All parts of the plant are poisonous. The toxins are unstable and of low toxicity, they are easily destroyed by heat or by drying[1]. The sap can cause irritation to the skin[2].

Edible uses


Young leaves in spring - raw or cooked as a potherb[3][4][5][6]. The first leaves in spring make an excellent salad[7]. The leaves, stalks and buds can be used like spinach[7], whilst the blanched stems are also eaten[8][6]. The leaves turn poisonous as the fruit matures[4]. Caution is advised regarding the use of this plant for food, see the notes above on toxicity.

Bulbils - cooked and used as a vegetable[7][5]. The bulbils are formed at the leaf axils and also at the roots[7][6]. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

The flower buds make a good substitute for capers[6].

Unknown part


Material uses

The flower petals are an effective tooth cleaner[9]. ( See notes at top of the page before using the petals) The plant often forms dense carpets when grown in the shade and can therefore be used as a ground cover though they die down in early summer. This should be done with some caution, however, since the plant can easily become an unwanted and aggressive weed in the garden[K].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Lesser celandine has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of haemorrhoids and ulcers[10]. It is not recommended for internal use because it contains several toxic components[10]. The whole plant, including the roots, is astringent[11][12][13]. It is harvested when flowering in March and April and dried for later use[11]. It is widely used as a remedy for piles and is considered almost a specific[11][13]. An infusion can be taken internally or it can be made into an ointment and used externally[11][13]. It is also applied externally to perineal damage after childbirth[13]. Some caution is advised because it can cause irritation to sensitive skins[14].

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer

Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. This species doesn't really need any help from us. Division in spring.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Ranunculus ficaria. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a moist loamy neutral to alkaline soil in full sun or shade[15][13].

A very common and invasive weed[16][17], especially when growing in the shade because this encourages formation of bulbils at the leaf bases[13]. You would regret introducing it into your garden, though it might have a place in the wild garden[17]. This is, however, a polymorphic species[17] and there are a number of named forms selected for their ornamental value[18]. These are normally less invasive than the type species. The plant flowers early in the year when there are few pollinating insects and so seed is not freely produced[11]. The plant, however, produced tubercles (small tubers) along the stems and each of these can grow into a new plant[11]. Grows well along woodland edges[19], and in the deeper shade of the woodland where it often forms dense carpets[11]. The flowers do not open in dull weather and even on sunny days do not open before about 9 o'clock in the morning and are closed by 5 o'clock in the evening[11].

A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[20].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Ranunculus ficaria. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Ranunculus ficaria.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Ranunculus ficaria
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    2. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    4. ? Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    5. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    6. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    7. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Hitchcock. C. L. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press (1955-00-00)
    10. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    11. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    13. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    15. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.1 Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
    17. ? Phillips. R. and Rix. M. Bulbs Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30253-1 (1989-00-00)
    18. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
    19. ? Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden. ()
    20. ? Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds. Frederick Muller Ltd ISBN 0-584-10141-4 (1977-00-00)