Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

Lesser Celandine (Grán Arcáin in Irish) is also known as Pilewort. Grán Arcáin or 'Piglet's Grain' in English refers to its small bulbs at the base of the leaves is one of our earliest spring wild flowers appearing in March and April. Until recently it was found growing in abundance in colonies along roadsides, damp places and under the shade of trees in Dublin. With increased motorway developments and County Council policies of destroying wildflowers with weedkillers, these wild habitats are fast disappearing and with them Celandine. At the same time, if this plant is introduced into a garden it spreads rapidly and is difficult to eradicate.

The flowers are similar to Buttercups being bright yellow and have the appearance of little stars when reflecting the sunlight. In wet windy weather, the petals close. Celandine has twice the amount of petals as the Buttercup and has heart-shaped glossy leaves.

The roots consist of small white bulbs seemingly not unlike piles! These bulbs, gathered when the flowers begin to wither, were used in an ointment to treat this ailment successfully in Co Meath and other parts of the country. As well as healing piles, a decoction of the root and leaves was used for warts 'wens and tumours' Apart from the early first leaves of the plant that contain Vitamin C it is not safe to eat or take other parts of Lesser Celandine internally. In the past an infusion of the leaves which contain tannins and has an astringent effect was used as a beauty treatment to tighten skin and remove wrinkles.

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