Ranunculaceae/ Buttercup or Crowfoot family
Flowers (early bud form or matured open flower form)
Perennial plant with a stem up to 60 cm tall arising from course fibrous roots. It has numerous leaves rising on long stalks from the base with short branching flower stalks with flower clusters (a cyme). Leaves are basal and on stem, heart to kidney shaped and can appear ruffled, 5-18 cm across, dark green, thick, and shiny with toothed margins. Flowers are bright yellow, 15-40 mm wide, with 5 to 9 petal-like sepals. It is one of the first flowers to appear in Spring from April to June. Fruit an aggregate of 4 to 12 follicles, each 4-15 mm long. It is an herbaceous perennial that takes 2 to 5 years to full growth. Deciduous foliage.
Wet swamps, marshes, fens, and edges of streams in temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. It is found in shade or part shade but has also been found growing in full sun. Is very hardy and clump forming. Leaves, stalks, and flower buds are collected in the Spring.
Small leaves, stalks, roots, and flowers must be cooked well for consumption. A known hazard- contains the toxic glycoside protoanemonin which can exhibit as intoxication but is burned off with heat and 2 or more changes of water. Older plants have an increased intensity of this toxin, so pick early in the season. Flower buds can be used as a caper alternative and the fully bloomed flowers (dried or fresh) can be used as a saffron alternative. These flowers when used with Alum can make a permanent fabric dye of clear yellow.
Medicinal Uses/ Key Actions
Every part of this plant is strongly irritant and so it should be used with caution. The whole plant is anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and rubefacient. It has been used to remove warts and is also used in the treatment of fits and anaemia. The root is antirheumatic, diaphoretic, emetic, and expectorant. A decoction is used in the treatment of colds. A poultice of the boiled and mashed roots has been applied to sores. A tea made from the leaves is diuretic and laxative. All parts of the plant can irritate or blister the skin or mucous membranes.