Did you know that today is ‘Celandine Day’? The brilliant yellow star-shaped flowers of lesser celandine brighten up the woodland floor and certainly deserve to be celebrated.

One of the folk names is ‘spring messenger’ and as the bright flowers, surrounded by glossy dark-green, heart-shaped leaves are one of the first flowers to appear after winter that certainly seems fitting. They are a sign of hope, but not just for us, they are an important source of nectar for queen bumblebees and other pollinators emerging from hibernation.

The name ‘Celandine’ comes from the Greek word ‘Chelidon’ which means ‘swallow’, another herald of spring, although the bird arrives on the scene considerably later than our flower.  21 February is Celandine Day, the best day to look for the flower appearing on damp woodland paths, shady hedgerows or stream banks. The renowned naturalist Gilbert White, who lived in the Hampshire village of Selborne, noted that this was the date that they usually appeared.

When I walked the trail at the reserve earlier today, a few flowers were on the cusp of opening. 

Legend has it that lesser celandine can be used to predict the weather. There is some truth in this as they will close their petals in cloudy weather and before rain.

They were once used in the treatment of haemorrhoids, resulting in the common name ‘pilewort’. Its efficacy is doubted as the treatment was based solely on the resemblance of the knobbly tubers to piles! It has also been used to prevent scurvy, but in this case the treatment is effective – the plant is high in Vitamin C.

Let me know if these cheerful flowers brighten up your walk too.

Anonymous