Caltha palustris

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: marsh marigold 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Native Range: Northern temperate regions
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Wet Soil


Grow in full sun to part shade in shallow water at the margins of a pond or water garden or in wet, boggy soils. Best flowering usually occurs in full sun, but plants appreciate some part shade in the heat of the summer. If sited in full sun in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area, plants may go dormant in summer. May be grown from seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Caltha palustris, commonly called marsh marigold, is a rhizomatous perennial that in North America is native to marshes, swamps, wet meadows and stream margins from Newfoundland to Alaska south to Nebraska, Tennessee and North Carolina. Unfortunately, the name marsh marigold is only descriptively accurate as to this plant’s habitat, because it neither looks like nor is related to marigolds (Aster family). It belongs to the buttercup family, and its shiny yellow flowers indeed look very much like buttercups. It typically grows 12-18” tall on hollow, branching stems. Bright yellow flowers (1-2” diameter) with 5-9 waxy deep yellow petal-like sepals bloom in spring (April to June). Flowers give way to seed pods which split open when ripe to disperse the seeds within. Long-stalked, rounded to cordate, glossy green basal leaves (to 7” across) attain mature size in summer well after flowering. Upper stem leaves are smaller and stalkless. Flower buds may be cooked and pickled in vinegar for use as a substitute for capers. Young leaves are also edible as cooked greens when boiled. No part of this plant should ever be eaten raw however.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for a plant with a yellow flower, probably Calendula.

Specific epithet means marsh-loving.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to powdery mildew and rust.


Water or bog gardens. Pond edges.