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Botanical Name : Caltha palustris
Species: C. palustris
Common Name :Marsh Marigold,Kingcup
In the UK, Caltha palustris is known by a variety of common names, varying by geographical region. These include Marsh Marigold and Kingcup (the two most frequently used common names), Mayflower, May Blobs, Mollyblobs, Pollyblobs, Horse Blob, Water Blobs, Water Bubbles, Gollins. Balfae (in Caithness) and the Publican. The common name of marigold refers to its use in churches in medieval times at Easter time as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, as in Mary gold.
The specific name palustris, Latin for “of the marsh”, indicates its common habitat.
Richard Mabey, in Flora Britannica, describes Caltha palustris thus:
Marsh-marigolds are in decline as agricultural land continues to be drained, but they are still the most three-dimensional of plants, their fleshy leaves and shiny petals impervious to wind and snow, and standing in sharp relief against the tousled brown of frostbitten grasses. Most of the plant’s surviving local names – water-blobs, molly-blobs, water-bubbles – reflect this solidity, especially the splendid, rotund ‘the publican’ from Lancashire.”
In North America Caltha palustris is sometimes known as cowslip. However, cowslip more often refers to Primula veris, the original plant to go by that name. Both are herbaceous plants with yellow flowers, but Primula veris is much smaller.
In Latvia Caltha palustris is also known as Gundega which is also used as a girls name which symbolizes fire. The word Gundega is made from 2 words – uguns (fire) and dega (burned). This refers to the burning reaction that some people experience from contact with Caltha sap
Habitat : Caltha palustris is native to marshes, fens, ditches and wet woodland in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
It becomes most luxuriant in partial shade, but is rare on peat. In the UK, it is probably one of the most ancient British native plants, surviving the glaciations and flourishing after the last retreat of the ice, in a landscape inundated with glacial meltwaters.
Caltha palustris is a herbaceous perennial plant.Height is up to 80 centimetres (31 in) tall. The leaves are rounded to kidney-shaped, 3–20 centimetres (1.2–7.9 in) across, with a bluntly serrated margin and a thick, waxy texture. Stems are hollow.
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The flowers are yellow, 2–5 cm (1–2 in) diameter, with 4-9 (mostly 5) petal-like sepals and many yellow stamens; they appear in early spring to late summer. The flowers are visited by a great variety of insects for pollen and for the nectar secreted from small depressions, one on each side of each carpel.
A plant of the waterside, it prefers growing in a sunny position in wet soils or shallow water up to 15cm deep, though it will tolerate drier conditions if there is shade from the summer sun. Another report says that it grows best in partial shade. Requires a deep rich slightly alkaline soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a chalky soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 7.5. A very ornamental and polymorphic plant, there are some named varieties. Plants often self-sow when well sited. A good bee plant. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes. This species is probably the most primitive flower in the British flora.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame in late summer. Stand the pots in 2 – 3cm of water to keep the soil wet. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 15°c. 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. 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.
Root – must be well cooked. The raw root should not be eaten. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Flower buds – raw, cooked or pickled and used as a caper substitute. Eating the raw flower buds can lead to intoxication. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young leaves – raw or cooked. The leaves are harvested in the spring as the plant is coming into flower and is used like spinach after cooking in two or more changes of water. Eating the raw leaves can lead to intoxication . Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Older leaves, before the plant flowers, can be eaten if they are well cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity.
Dr. Withering described a case in which a large bouquet of marsh marigolds brought into the sickroom of a spasmodic girl stopped her fits. The cure was presumed a result of whatever the flowers exude. Since then, the infusions have also been used to prevent fits. A decoction of the herb has been used for dropsy and in urinary affections. The root tea induces sweating, is an emetic and an expectorant. The leaf tea is a diuretic and a laxative. Ojibwas mixed tea with maple sugar to make a cough syrup that was popular with colonists. The syrup was used as a folk antidote to snake venom. The plant contains anemonin and protoanemonin both with marginal antitumor activity. It has also been used to treat warts: a drop of the leaf juice was applied daily until the wart disappeared. The Chippewa applied the dried powdered and moistened or fresh root of cowslip twice daily to cure scrofula sores.
Other Uses:…..Dye..……A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers, a saffron substitute. It is used as a dye when mixed with alum, though it is not very permanent. Plants can be grown for ground cover when planted about 45cm apart each way.
As is the case with many members of the Ranunculaceae, all parts of the plant are poisonous and can be irritant. Skin rashes and dermatitis have been reported from excessive handling of the plant. The whole plant, but especially the older portions, contains the toxic glycoside protoanemonin – this is destroyed by heat. The sap can irritate sensitive skin.
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.
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