Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Lesser Celandine, Pilewort, Fig Buttercup
Ficaria verna

Family: Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ficaria (fye-KAIR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: verna (VER-nuh) (Info)

Synonym:Ranunculus ficaria

4 members have or want this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

under 6 in. (15 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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No positives
1 neutral
8 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative HLilly On Mar 22, 2013, HLilly from AMISSVILLE, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

We haven't planted this, but it's everywhere in our back yard. Quite pretty when it's in bloom, but it's on the invasive list and nearly impossible to get rid of, so I don't recommend planting it on purpose.

Negative delbertyoung56m On Nov 21, 2011, delbertyoung56m from Medina, NY wrote:

I got this plant in Syracuse, NY and planted it under my smoke bush with the daffodils. Now they are smothering my dear daffodils and are into the lawn. They are beautiful, but don't plant them because they are bullies and take over, killing even the nice bulbs.

Negative OhioLarch On Mar 2, 2011, OhioLarch from Monroe, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Terribly difficult to eradicate once established, this plant will overrun any other spring ephemerals you have.

Negative WNYwillieB On Jun 13, 2008, WNYwillieB from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have never planted this, however, it was dormant in the topsoil I saved from where I dug the foundation for my greenhouse (old lawn space).

I did not know anything about it, and kept right on gardening, digging up the soil, planting plants, which multiplied this plant, literally by the millions. Now it is EVERYWHERE, and you CANNOT PULL THIS UP.


This plant usually appears above ground in late February and usually dies back after late April.

It spreads mainly by tubercles (bulbils) that form in the leaf axils and rapidly colonise disturbed soil.

Attempting to dig out the plants often assists their spread as, unless great care is taken, this operation will distribute the tubercles.

Mulching the surface of the soil with a 4in (10cm) deep layer of organic material may smother the weed, but in some situations the only method of control is to use a weedkiller.

Remove all cultivated plants first and then use a glyphosate spray (such as Roundup or Tumbleweed). I am starting to have success with Weed-B-Gone.

Negative TodPA On Apr 26, 2008, TodPA from Malvern, PA wrote:

I advise strongly against growing this plant. It is a non-native invasive throughout much of the Eastern U.S. About 15 years ago it began to appear at the edge of our property in S.E. PA, and now our 3-acre plot is completely overrun by it. It gets into everything... beds, lawn, natural areas, and is VERY hard to eradicate. I can't believe it is still legal to buy this plant!

Negative Jazz_HR On Mar 13, 2008, Jazz_HR from Ivanić-Grad
Croatia (Zone 7a) wrote:

First year I liked it. I thought: nice ground cover in early spring,shiny leaves,cute yellow flowers, but now after couple years its the biggest trouble in my garden: its everywhere and I cant weeded it out especially among perennials, lots of rhizomes always stay and multiply horrible!

Negative sempervirens On Mar 28, 2006, sempervirens from Northern, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant is extremely invasive in my garden. It is crowding out all the lovely native spring ephemerals.

Negative ginapaloma On Apr 22, 2005, ginapaloma from Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I never planted this, but it is taking over my garden! Every year I pull it out, and it comes back full-force (or worse) the next February.

Neutral Baa On Sep 9, 2001, Baa wrote:

Variable, tuberous perennial from Europe, North West Africa and South West Asia. Has broad, heart shaped, hairless, glossy leaves which can be all sorts of green, marked with black, silver or almost completely purple-burgandy black upto 2 inches long. Bears solitary, cup shaped, yellow, white, green, orange with usually 8-12 petals. All flowers turn white with age.

Flowers March-May

Native to damp open ground, woods, hedges and lawns. Leaves die back in June and appear again in February the following year. Can be extremely invasive and difficult to control. It grows from bulbils which even if dug up the smallest bulbil with sprout the following year.

Their roots were used in the treatment of piles (which Culpepper stated they were a perfect image of) and scrophula which is a disease it did have a good effect on, it was also used against the plague in Elizabethan (1st) times.

The tubers were also thought to look like minature cows udders and the flower colour glistened like butter, dried tubers were hung in cow byres in the hope that they helped influence the cows to make more milk and butterfat. Which only goes to prove that some people will try anything at least once. The effect is not recorded but taking a wild guess here, it didn't work.

The leaves can be stewed and sauted in butter and served as spinach, the buds can be preserved in vinegar and make a substitute for capers. That is is you can gather enough of the plant to make a meal.

In times gone by there have been reports of 'rains of potatoes' here. This curious claim may be explained by the fact that the R. ficaria tubers are close to the surface and after heavy rain the tubers get washed away with the soil. Handfuls of tubers can be found at the bottom of slopes after a real downpour and may be the potatoes refered to in the reports.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Winnetka, Illinois
Pikesville, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Maplewood, New Jersey
Brooklyn, New York
Buffalo, New York
Medina, New York
Woodside, New York
Cincinnati, Ohio
Monroe, Ohio
Malvern, Pennsylvania
Amissville, Virginia

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