Celandine Species, Greater Celandine, Killwort, Nipplewort, Swallowwort, Tetterwort

Chelidonium majus

Family: Papaveraceae (pa-pav-er-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Chelidonium (kel-ee-DON-ee-um) (Info)
Species: majus (MAY-jus) (Info)
Synonym:Chelidonium laciniatum
Synonym:Chelidonium majus var. laciniatum
View this plant in a garden




Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade




Foliage Color:



18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Fort Collins, Colorado

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Prospect, Kentucky

Dexter, Maine

Millersville, Maryland

Billerica, Massachusetts

Middleboro, Massachusetts

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Imperial, Nebraska

Deposit, New York

East Setauket, New York

Elba, New York

Hillsdale, New York

Southold, New York

Stamford, New York

Washingtonville, New York

West Kill, New York

Coopersburg, Pennsylvania

Fayetteville, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Westerly, Rhode Island

Clarksville, Tennessee

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 2, 2018, jep1978 from Shorewood Hills, WI wrote:

Invades shady natural areas rapidly and diminishes their species diversity. Neighbors have let this plant grow, so now it's a bane to me. Crowds out everything else and keeps coming back where it had been established. I can pull it out by the roots if the soil is moist enough, otherwise it breaks off.


On Feb 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A persistent weed here, it didn't quite make the prohibited "invasive exotic" list in Massachusetts. I wonder how many years I'll have to keep weeding it out before I start to exhaust the seed bank.

Our native wood poppy Stylophorum diphyllum (also confusingly called Celandine-poppy) looks very similar but has much showier flowers. It also seeds about a bit but isn't weedy.


On Apr 18, 2013, andrjsh from Portland, OR wrote:

I am looking for this plant for my garden. They stopped selling it in local nurseries because of the toxic alkaloids in the juice. If anyone has extras or seeds, let me know.


On Jul 14, 2012, aprilkaren from Nineveh, IN wrote:

I am in zone 5 and have tried to grow this plant without success. All of you who have so many and do not like it, would you be willing to send me one or some seed.I buy the extract form to treat skin cancer. Have used it for years. It has always cleared up the spots. Thanks.


On May 29, 2010, gardener_Julie from Waterloo,
Canada wrote:

This starts as one pretty little plant - but ants are attracted to it's seeds & carry them along. ONE of these beasts popped up 2 years ago - I pulled it & threw it in our composter...BIG mistake! Each year it multiplies like crazy - I've just finished pulling a 10x50 area full of Greater Celandine. I've also just clued in that it is probably what causes my skin on my hands & arms to fester & itch - so will wear cloves & long pants & sleeves next year.
I came on here looking for suggestions as to how to kill it (prefer not to use chemicals). I pull & dig the roots each year, but it doesn't work. They are growing in shaded area where our grass won't grow. Is there something I can add to the soil to deter its growth?
The orange sap stains everything & is hard to wash off of han... read more


On May 23, 2010, flowers4birds from Chilton, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I saw this plant blooming at a friend's house and thought it was a pretty wildflower, so I planted some seeds. Big Mistake! It is an alien invasive and is taking over my Wisconsin woodland. I now have thousands of them.

The stuff grows hip-deep in moist, shady soil and smothers all the other wildflowers by excuding light from them. Every seed grows, and they continue to sprout for years. Now I'm spending dozens of beautiful May days pulling the plants instead of enjoying my garden. I cannot get rid of it. It just keeps on spreading. They come up under all my bushes and are very difficult to reach. The bright orange juice bleeds copiously from this brittle plant and it stains everything it touches. The stains dry to a dirty dark gray and do not wash out. It will rui... read more


On Nov 24, 2009, rockgardner from Billerica, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I'm not concerned by this plant, it's a bit invasive but they're so easy to pull up if it invades your space. A much better looking "weed" than most. I have a portion of my property that I let grow wild (more or less) and this plant stands out over most others growing there because it stays a rich green well after everything else has died back or grown very ugly. Plus it has such a long blooming period. May not be something you want in your rock garden, but there are much worse things growing wild out there.


On Mar 8, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Weedy nonnative species that spreads by seeds - never grow weedy plants that spreads that way - you will never know where they will pop up next. I got and planted one by mistake - it was labeled Woodland Poppy but I found out when the seedpods develop - different from Woodland Poppy by its mustard - like seed pods while Woodland Poppy have rounded hairy seed pods. I got rid of the single plant without having it seed anywhere.


On Dec 27, 2006, pirl from (Arlene) Southold, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

It's become so invasive and such a problem that my reason for adding this note is just a warning to others as to how it might go astray for you, too.


On Jul 28, 2006, quato from Hancock, MI wrote:

I noticed this plant growing in the border area at the back of my yard....it was in a shady area where mature trees and young trees were growing....I noticed it blooming in early May....it is now the end of July and it is still blooming and putting on new growth. I hope it will reseed itself as it is a perfect plant for that location. I will probably help mother nature and put seeds where I would like them to establish themselves. Does this plant flower the first year?


On Apr 29, 2005, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

This first appeared as a volunteer on the edge of my lawn. When trying to uproot it, we noticed the lurid orange juice, and realized it must be some sort of dye plant. Took me awhile to identify it, but then found it growing in cottage gardens of old Dutch colonial farmsteads around here. One prefered spot was between rhubarb plants against barn walls.
Mine produces copious amounts of seed, but does not have a particularly high germination rate. The leaves are a pretty bluish shade. My plants don't last too long, a couple of years at most, but it does reseed sufficiently so I always have a couple. Looks great with blue spiderworts.


On Apr 28, 2005, JanetR from Ottawa, ON (Zone 4a) wrote:

This plant grows wild in my zone (4a). I collected seeds from the wild and grew it easily in my garden. By the third year, it was bushy and flowered continuously from May till frost. It is a wonderful foil for showier flowers, such as bleeding heart, wild geranium, and lilies. I had no pest problems, it reseeded a bit, but not invasively. This year, I rescued a volunteer from a common area before the weed whackers got to it and am planting it again at my new house. The flowers on mine are double, adding to the charm. This is apparently a spontaneous mutation.


On May 26, 2004, NatureWalker from New York & Terrell, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I agree whole heartedly with Baa.

It will grow in practically any soil, full sun or shade but prefers dappled shade and slightly moist soil.
Self seeds like no bodies business.
Sow seeds direct in Spring.

My landlord wants to mow 'em down; but he can't. They're in my protective custody.
Celandine, Greater
Botanical: Chelidonium majus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Papaveraceae

The orange-coloured, acrid juice is commonly used fresh to cure warts, ringworm and corns, but should not be allowed to come into contact with any other part of the skin. (Yes it did turn my hands orange/yellow and removed some of the outer layer of skin it touched; when trying to remove some seeds. *It 'Bled' orange colored sap!) It to... read more


On May 31, 2002, Baa wrote:

Clump forming, short lived perennial, which sometimes acts as a biennial, from Europe and Western Asia.

Has blue-green, lobed leaves with scalloped edges. Bears yellow, 4 petalled flowers.

Flowers May-July

Will grow in practically any soil, full sun or shade but prefers dappled shade and slightly moist soil.

Self seeds like no bodies business.

Sow seeds direct in Spring.


On Sep 1, 2001, Lilith from Durham,
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

The flowers of Greater Celandine look like tiny yellow Poppies, but its fruits appear more like those of the cresses and cabbages. The slender capsule splits open from the base releasing tiny black seeds, each with a fleshy, oily outgrowth that is eagerly sought by ants that carry off and disperse the seeds. The plant was formerly widely used for the treatment of sore or cloudy eyes, although the bright orange sap is acrid and poisonous. External application of the sap was used to treat warts, corns and ringworm, although it will equally damage any skin that it touches. In Russia, the plant has been used as an anti-cancer drug. The native distibution of Greater Celandine has been obscured by innumerable escapes from cultivation; it is now found in gardens mostly as a weed.