Chelidonium majus
Common Name: greater celandine
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Papaveraceae
Native Range: Europe, western Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to August
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade

Culture

Easily grown in medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist but not wet soils. Will also grow in full sun, particularly in cool summer climates. Tolerates a wide range of soils including poor ones. Usually self-seeds aggressively in the garden to the point where, once established, it can be difficult to eliminate. Plants have escaped gardens and naturalized in the eastern U. S. Plants may be grown from seed and are best propagated by seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chelidonium majus is native to rocky slopes, woodlands, waste areas and along roads in Europe and western Asia. Commonly called greater celandine, it is a short-lived perennial or biennial in the poppy family that bears yellow flowers and gray-green leaves. It will aggressively self-seed to the point of being weedy. Plants have in fact escaped gardens and naturalized in a number of areas in North America including Quebec, Ontario, much of the eastern and upper midwestern U.S. plus several areas in the Pacific northwest. Plants typically grow in a clump to 12-24” tall. Loose umbels of 4-petaled, 1-inch wide, yellow flowers bloom May to August. Flowers are followed by smooth, slender seed capsules (to 2” long) that split open when ripe to release tiny seeds. Lobed to deeply pinnatifid gray-green leaves (5-10” long) appear on brittle stems. Bruised or broken stems exude an acrid orange-yellow sap that is allergenic (e.g., often irritates human skin). Although all parts of this plant are toxic to humans, the plant has a long history of herbal/medicinal usage. It was once believed to be an effective remedy for wart removal, resulting in the acquisition of common names such as wartweed and swallowwart. Greater celandine is in the same family as but is significantly different in appearance from the Missouri native celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) whose yellow flowers are twice the size. Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is another aggressive yellow-flowered spreader from Europe and Asia, but it is in a different family (Ranunculaceae) than greater celandine.

Genus name comes from the Greek word chelidon meaning a swallow as it flowered when the swallows arrived.

Specific epithet means bigger or larger.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Naturalize in woodland, wild gardens or other areas where plant spread will not be a concern.