Index
Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

White mountain marsh-marigold - Caltha leptosepala

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family) [E-flora]

Subtaxa Present in B.C.

"Caltha leptosepala howellii is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, beetles, flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water." [PFAF]

"General: Perennial herb from a short, thick stem-base with fibrous roots; stems erect, 5-40 cm tall; plants smooth, fleshy." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat/Range: Wet to moist meadows, bogs, fens, streambanks and seepage sites from the lowland to alpine zones; common in W BC, west of the Coast-Cascade Mountains (var. biflora), frequent throughout BC except Queen Charlotte Islands and adjacent coast (var. leptosepala); N to SW AK and S YK, E to AB and S to NM, AZ and CA." [IFBC-E-flora] "Swamps and marshy meadows, often under the edge of snow banks. Rocky Mountains and northwest, usually above 8000 feet elevation and extending to above timberline." [Harrington]

Status: Native [E-flora]

"Notes: Two varieties occur in BC:" [IFBC-E-flora]

1. "Leaves longer than wide, the margins more sharp-toothed than round-toothed; flowers usually 1 per stem; subalpine and alpine......................... var. leptosepala" [IFBC-E-flora]
1. "Leaves nearly as wide as long, the margins subentire to broadly round-toothed; flowers mostly 2 per stem; lowland to subalpine........................... var. biflora (DC.) Lawson" [IFBC-E-flora]

"Ecological Indicator Information A very shade-intolerant, subalpine to alpine. Western North American forb distributed equally in the Pacific and Cordilleran regions. Occurs in alpine tundra and subalpine boreal climates. Species occurs on water-receiving sites on moist to wet nutrient-rich soils. Scattered to abundant in herbaceous communities along small streams fed by melting snowbanks. Characteristic of subalpine communities." (Information applies to coastal locations only) [IPBC-E-flora]

Hazard:

Edible Uses

Medicinal

"The whole plant is antispasmodic and expectorant. It has been used to remove warts[172]. A poultice of the chewed roots has been applied to inflamed wounds[257]." [PFAF]

Pharmacology

Cultivation

"A plant of the waterside, it prefers growing in a sunny position in wet soils or shallow water[1, 111, 233], though it will tolerate drier conditions if there is shade from the summer sun[233]. It requires a deep rich slightly acidic soil[111, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -20c[187]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54]." [PFAF]

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 15oc[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." [PFAF]

References


Caltha Sp. - Marsh-marigold

"Perennial herb from short caudex [long, slender stolons], generally fleshy, glabrous. Stem: 1–few. Leaf: simple, oblong-ovate to spheric-reniform or cordate, crenate to dentate [entire]; basal petioles > blades. Inflorescence: cyme or flowers 1, terminal or axillary, bracts leaf-like. Flower: sepals 5–12, petal-like, white to yellow; petals 0; pistils 5–many, ovules. Fruit: follicle, sessile to short-stalked, generally beaked. Seed: brown, wrinkled.
10 species: worldwide. (Greek: ancient name, from bowl-shaped flower)" [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Caltha leptosepala - White mountain marsh-marigold [E-flora]
  2. Caltha palustris - Yellow Marsh-marigold [E-flora]

"1 Sepals yellow; most flowers borne on the rising tips of sprawling stems, these sometimes rooting at the nodes (flowering stems with as many as 3 flowers and 3 leaves; in wet, boggy or marshy habitats, in our region strictly coastal except where planted or probably planted) . . . . . . . . C. palustris var. palustris (C. asarifolia) yellow marsh marigold" [Kozloff PWO]

"1 Sepals white; flowering stems (these usually with 1 leaf ) upright, arising from a short, leafy base (leaf blades about as long as wide, the basal lobes touching or overlapping; flowering stems usually with 2 flowers; not often found below about 2000 ft., 610 m) . . . . . . . C. leptosepala (C. leptosepala var. biflora, C. biflora), pl. 479 white marsh marigold" [Kozloff PWO]

Uses of Caltha Sp.

Species Mentioned: "cowslips, meadowbouts, palsywort, meadowbright, marybuds, horse blobs, kingcup, bull's eye (Caltha species); yellow marsh marigold (C. palustris); floating marsh marigold (c. natans); alpine white marsh marigold, two-flowered white marsh marigold (c. biflora) " [Schofield]

Hazards: "Foragers should be aware that Caltha species contain a poisonous glucoside, protoane- monin. This toxin can be removed by boiling (it dissipates at 180oF) or by thoroughly drying the herb. Though there are some reports of using very young leaves raw in salads (the poison principle intensifies with age), cooking the plant before ingesting is strongly advised." [Schofield]

"Harvest the plant with gloves if you have sensitive skin; the fresh plant is acrid and can cause skin irritation." [Schofield]

Food Use

Other Use

Medicinal Use

References


Caltha palustris - Yellow Marsh-marigold

Subtaxa Present in B.C.

"Caltha palustris is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from Mar to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are 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: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water." [PFAF]

"General: Perennial herb from a short, thick stem-base with fibrous roots; stems erect or ascending, or with age reclining and rooting at nodes, 10-60 cm tall/long; plants smooth." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat/Range: This species has a northern circumpolar distribution and is found growing in ponds throughout a wide range of Alaska. [Jernigan EYK] "Bogs and shallow, brackish marshes in the lowland zone; rare along the coast; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to WV, TN, NC, NE and OR." [IFBC-E-flora] "Caltha palustris is found in all temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere." [PDR]

Status:

"This annual wetland plant is found across Canada and major parts of the United States, but is absent from most of the southern US (USDA 2011). Although it is reported from Alaska and the Yukon, it is primarily (with one exception) reported in BC from the southwestern mainland region of the province where it is found in bogs and shallow, brackish marshes in the lowland zone. In Flora North America (2011), it is described as occurring in "marshes, fens, ditches, wet woods and swamps, thriving best in open or only partly shaded sites". Phenotypically, this is a very plastic (variable) species (Flora North America 2011)." [E-flora]

In British Columbia, we recognize two varieties of this species:" [E-flora]

  1. C. palustris var. palustris --introduced from eastern North America" [E-flora]
  2. C. palustris var. radicans--native to British Columbia" [E-flora]

"Marsh marigold is a popular garden plant and it has been observed as an escape from cultivation. These plants are virtually identical to our native populations, but usually the escaped plants are more floriferous and compact and grow away from tidal marshes, usually in parks and urban sites where they look somewhat out of place compared to the native vegetation" [E-flora]

Hazards

Edible Uses

"The leaves and stem are collected early, before they flower in the summer. They are boiled, changing the water two or three times to leach out toxic chemicals, including protoanemonin before eating. Griffin (2001) reports that people on Nunivak eat the cooked young leaves and stems with seal flipper or seal oil." [Jernigan EYK]

"Leaves and young plants cooked as greens; sometimes with meat or fat, by Iroquois, Ojibwa, Abenaki; leaves eaten fresh and roots cooked and eaten by Eskimo of Alaska." [Turner&Kuhnlein]

"The unopened flower buds are sometimes pickled and used like capers or a spicy condiment (Sanford). Hulme pointed out that to be safe they would have to be soaked first in vinegar for a long time. Some native American peoples, the Menomini, for instance (H H Smith. 1923), boiled the leaves to eat them as spinach. Boiling would get rid of the sharp and biting taste." [MPFT]

Entire Plant eaten in winter and spring by Eskimo peoples.[AJA 7.2][Helaine_Selin]

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Activities (Marsh-Marigold) — Analgesic (f; EFS); Antiedemic (f; PH2); Antiinflammatory (f; PH2); Antipyretic (1; HH2); Antirheumatic (f; DAA); Antisarcomic (1; DAA); Antispasmodic (f; EFS); Antitumor (1; DAA; FAD); Diaphoretic (f; DEM; FAD); Diuretic (f; DEM; EFS; FAD; HH2); Emetic (f; DEM); Expectorant (f; DEM; FAD); Hyperglycemic (1; PH2); Hypocholesterolemic (1; PH2); Hypotensive (1; HH2); Laxative (f; FAD; PH2); Pectoral (f; WO2); Poison (1; DEM; EFS; PH2); Spermicide (1; WO2)." [HMH Duke]

Select Indications (Marsh-Marigold) — Cancer (1; DAA; FAD; HHB; JLH); Constipation (f; DEM; FAD; PH2); Dermatosis (f; HHB; PH2); Fever (1; DEM; FAD; HH2); Jaundice (f; EFS; HH2); Sore (f; DEM; HH2); Tumor (1; DAA; FAD); Wart (f; JLH; WO2); Water Retention (f; DEM; EFS; FAD; HHB; HH2); [HMH Duke]


Lore

"Very occasionally, the plant has been used medicinally. An infusion of the flowers has been recommended for treating fits, and a tincture from the whole plant has been used for anaemia (North). Turner actually recommended chewing the leaf to relieve toothache! It sounds extremely hazardous." [MPFT]
"Although John Parkinson in his comprehensive seventeenth-century herbal could find no evidence of the use of Caltha palustris medicinally, its flowers are reputed to have been much valued for such purposes in Ireland formerly.11 In Meath they are known to have been boiled into a posset or a soup and the contents drunk for heart ailments—perhaps on ‘sympathetic’ grounds, as the heart-shape of the leaves was stressed to the informant.12 The fleshiness of these, as one might expect, was also an attraction: in Roscommon, three were plucked and one at a time stewed and then tied hot on a bandage to a boil.13" [MPFT]

Admixtures

"The term "confinement" is never defined by Densmore, but, in ma ny societies, women are confined to home during the post-natal period, or, sometimes, during their monthly periods. It mayalso be a euphemism for breast-feeding. The Chippewa used the roots of cowslip (Caltha palustris), bur snakeroot (Sanicuia canadensis), common milkweed (Asclepia syriaca), rattle- snake root (Prenanthes alba), thisties (Cirsium spp.), and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) for this condition. The roots of cowslip and bur snakeroot were cooked into a mixed decoction and drunk. In the case of milkweed, 1/2 root was infused in water, and the resuiting liquid added to any liquid food that the patient might drink. RattIesnake root was dried and pow- dered, then added to broth. ThistIe and dande- lion were infused together, four roots per quart of water, then used as a drink." [WFF-Vol. IV. Nos.4-5]

Phytochemicals

"Protoanemonine-forming agents: In the freshly harvested plant, it is presumably the glycoside ranunculin that changes enzymatically when the plant is cut into small pieces, and probably also when it is dried. It then changes into the pungent, volatile protoanemonine that is severely irritating to skin and mucous membranes but quickly dimerizes to anemonine; when dried, the plant is not capable of protoanemonine formation" [PDR]

"Triterpene saponins: including hederagenin glycosides" [PDR]
"Triterpene lactones: caltholid, palustrolid" [PDR]
"Isoquinoline alkaloids (aporphine type, very small quantities): including corytuberine, magnoflorine, protopine" [PDR]

"The drug contains alkaloids of the benzylisoquinoline type (magnoflorine, triterpene saponins, triterpene lactones)." [PDR]

"Caltha palustris L. var. membranacea Turcz. & C. palustris L. var. sibirica Regel - Luo Ti Cao (Marsh marigold); (whole plant) Anemonin, protoanemonin, choline, hellebrin, cevadine, berberine, scopoletin, saponin, umbelliferone, isorhamnetin, xanthophyllepoxyl.48,50 - Antirheumatic, antitumor." [CRNAH]


Caltha palustris – Yellow Marsh Marigold

Part: Greens Per 100 g fresh weight [Turner, Kuhnlein]
Food Energy (Kcal) - Ash (g) - Potassium (mg) 587
Water (g) 90 Thiamine (mg) - Magnesium (mg) 49
Protein (g) 1.6 Chloride (mg) 176 Calcium (mg) 96
Fat (g) - Niacin (mg) - Phosphorus (mg) 37
Carbohydrate (g) - Vitamin C (mg) - Sodium (mg) 0.8
Crude Fiber (g) - Vitamin A (RE) - Iron (mg) 1.2
Zinc (mg) 0.6 Manganese (mg) 0.8 Copper (mg) <0.1

Cultivation
"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]." [PFAF]

Ground Cover

"Plants can be grown for ground cover when planted about 45cm apart each way[208]." [PFAF]

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." [PFAF]

References


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