Ranunculus ficaria

Botanical Name : Ranunculus ficaria
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Ranunculus
Species: R. ficaria
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales

Synonyms:   Ficaria grandiflora Robert, Ficaria verna Huds

Common Names :Lesser celandine

Habitat :Ranunculus ficaria is found throughout Europe and west Asia and is now introduced in North America. It prefers bare, damp ground and in the UK it is often a persistent garden weed. The flowers are orange, turning yellow as they age.

Description:
Ranunculus ficaria is a low-growing, hairless perennial plant, with fleshy dark green, heart-shaped leaves.It grows to  0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 6-Jan It is in flower from Mar to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles.
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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.

It exists in both diploid (2n=16) and tetraploid (2n=32) forms which are very similar in appearance. However, the tetraploid type prefer more shady locations and frequently develops bulbils at the base of the stalk. These two variants are sometimes referred to as distinct sub-species, R. ficaria ficaria and R. ficaria bulbifer respectively.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, celandine comes from the Latin chelidonia, meaning swallow: it was said that the flowers bloomed when the swallows returned and faded when they left. The name Ranunculus is Late Latin for “little frog,” from rana “frog” and a diminutive ending. This probably refers to many species being found near water, like frogs.

Cultivation:   
Prefers a moist loamy neutral to alkaline soil in full sun or shade[1, 238]. A very common and invasive weed[17, 90], especially when growing in the shade because this encourages formation of bulbils at the leaf bases[238]. You would regret introducing it into your garden, though it might have a place in the wild garden[90]. This is, however, a polymorphic species[90] and there are a number of named forms selected for their ornamental value[188]. 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[4]. The plant, however, produced tubercles (small tubers) along the stems and each of these can grow into a new plant[4]. Grows well along woodland edges[24], and in the deeper shade of the woodland where it often forms dense carpets[4]. 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[4]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54].

Propagation :  
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. This species doesn’t really need any help from us. Division in spring.

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Edible Uses   :
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.

Young leaves in spring – raw or cooked as a potherb. The first leaves in spring make an excellent salad. The leaves, stalks and buds can be used like spinach, whilst the blanched stems are also eaten. The leaves turn poisonous as the fruit matures. Caution is advised regarding the use of this plant for food, see the notes above on toxicity. Bulbils – cooked and used as a vegetable. The bulbils are formed at the leaf axils and also at the roots.  Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. The flower buds make a good substitute for capers.

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent.

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

Other Uses :
Teeth.

The flower petals are an effective tooth cleaner.  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.

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

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ranunculus+ficaria
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_celandine

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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