Caltha palustris

Common Names: Marsh-marigold, kingcup
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Buttercup family

A 10 to 80 cm high, hairless, fleshy, perennial, herbaceous plant. The plants have many, 2 to 3 mm thick strongly branching roots. Its flowering stems are hollow, erect or more or less decumbent. The alternate true leaves are in a rosette, each of which consist of a leaf stem that is about 4 times as long as the kidney-shaped leaf blade, itself between 3 to 25 cm long and 3 to 20 cm wide, with a hart-shaped foot, a blunt tip, and a scalloped to toothed, sometime almost entire margin particularly towards the tip. Several flowering stems of up to 80 cm long, carrying seated leaflike stipules, or the lower ones may be on a short petiole, and between 4 and 6 (but occasionally as few as one or as many as 25) flowers. The flowers are approximately 4 cm in diameter. There are 4 to 9 petal-like, brightly colored, yolk yellow, white or magenta, inverted egg-shaped sepals, each about 1.75 cm long and 1.3 cm wide with a blunt or sometimes acute tip. Real petals and nectaries are lacking. Between fifty and hundred-twenty stamens with flattened yellow filaments and yellow tricolpate or sometimes pantoporate pollen encircle between 5 and 25 free, flattened, linear-oblong, yellow to green carpels, with a two-lobed, obliquely positioned stigma, and each with many seedbuds.

Found in marshes, fens, ditches and wet woodland. Blooms between April and August.

Primary Flower Color: Yellow
Secondary Flower Color: Yellow
Edible Notes: Early spring greens and buds are edible when cooked. Young leaves or buds should be submerged a few times in fresh boiling water until barely tender, cut into bite-sized pieces, lightly salted, and served with melted butter and vinegar. Very young flowerbuds have been prepared like capers and used as a spice. However, Caltha contains several active substances of which the most important from a toxicological point of view is protoanemonin. Larger quantities of the plant may cause convulsions, burning of the throat, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dizziness and fainting. Contact of the skin or mucous membranes with the juices can cause blistering or inflammation, and gastric illness if ingested. Younger parts seem to contain less toxics and heating breaks these substances down.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.