GREATER CELANDINE SWALLOWWORT





(Chelidonium majus) Poppy family



Flowers - Lustreless yellow, about 1/2 in. across, on slender

pedicels, in a small umbel-like cluster. Sepals 2, soon falling;

4 petals, many yellow stamens, pistil prominent. Stem: Weak, to 2

ft. high, branching, slightly hairy, containing bright orange

acrid juice. Leaves: Thin, 4 to 8 in. long, deeply cleft into 5

(usually) irregular oval lobes, the terminal one largest. Fruit:

Smooth, slender, erect pods, 1 to 2 in, long, tipped with the

persistent style.

Preferred Habitat - Dry waste land, fields, roadsides, gardens,

near dwellings.

Flowering Season - April-September.

Distribution - Naturalized from Europe in Eastern United States.



Not this weak invader of our roadsides, whose four yellow petals

suggest one of the cross-bearing mustard tribe, but the pert

little LESSER CELANDINE, PILEWORT, or FIGWORT BUTTERCUP (Ficaria

Ficaria), one of the Crowfoot family, whose larger solitary

satiny yellow flowers so commonly star European pastures, was

Wordsworth's special delight - a tiny, turf-loving plant, about

which much poetical association clusters. Having stolen passage

across the Atlantic, it is now making itself at home about

College Point, Long Island; on Staten Island; near Philadelphia,

and maybe elsewhere. Doubtless it will one day overrun our

fields, as so many other European immigrants have done.



The generic Greek name of the greater celandine, meaning a

swallow, was given it because it begins to bloom when the first

returning swallows are seen skimming over the water and freshly

ploughed fields in a perfect ecstasy of flight, and continues in

flower among its erect seed capsules until the first cool days of

autumn kill the gnats and small winged insects not driven to

cover. Then the swallows, dependent on such fare, must go to

warmer climes where plenty still fly. Quaint old Gerarde claims

that the swallow-wort was so called because "with this herbe the

dams restore eye-sight to their young ones when their eye be put

out" by swallows. Coles asserts "the swallow cureth her dim eyes

with celandine."



There can be little satisfaction in picking a weed which droops

immediately, poppy fashion, and whose saffron juice stains

whatever it touches. A drop of this acrid fluid on the tip of the

tongue is not soon forgotten. The luminous experiments of Darwin,

Lubbock, Wallace, Muller, and Sprengel, among others, have proved

that color in flowers exists for the purpose of attracting

insects. But how about colored juices in the blood-roots' and

poppies' stems, for example; the bright stalk of the pokeweed,

the orange-yellow root of the carrot, the exquisite tints of

autumn leaves, fungi, and seaweed? Besides the green color

(chlorophyll), the most necessary of all ingredients to a plant

are the lipochromes, which vary from yellow to red. These are

most conspicuous when they displace the chlorophyll in autumn

foliage. Then there are the anthocyans, ranging from magenta to

blue and violet. These vary according to the amount of acid or

alkali in the sap. Try the effect of immersing a blue morning

glory in an acid solution, or a deep pink one in an alkaline

solution. One theory to account for the presence of color is that

it exists to screen the plant's protoplasm from light; that it

has a physiological function with which insects have nothing

whatever to do; and that by its presence the temperature is

raised and the plant is protected from cold. Every one who has

handled the colorless Indian pipe knows how cold and clammy it

is.





The YELLOW or CELANDINE POPPY (Stylophorum diphyllum), with

shining yellow flowers double the size of the greater

celandine's, and similar pinnatifid leaves springing chiefly from

the base, blooms even in March and through the spring in the

Middle States and westward to Wisconsin and Missouri. Usually

only one of the few terminal blossoms opens at a time, but in

low, open woodlands it gleams like a miniature sun. Alas! that

the glorious CALIFORNIA POPPY, so commonly grown in Eastern

gardens (Eschscholtzia Californica), should confine itself to a

limited range on the Pacific Coast. We have no true native

poppies (Papaver) in America; such as are rarely to be seen in a

wild state, have only locally escaped from cultivation.





GREATER BLADDERWORT HOODED WATERMILFOIL POPWEED GROUND OR MOSS PINK facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback