Invasive Plant: Lesser Celandine

invasive plant planting native
Closeup of clump of spring yellow flowers, Ficaria verna, (formerly Ranunculus ficaria L.) commonly known as lesser celandine or pilewort

An invasive plant to look out for now is Lesser Celandine. Maybe you have seen these yellow flowers coming up with your daffodils. They look pretty enough, but they are highly invasive and will readily crowd out native flowers.

Because they are not from here — they stem from Europe, part of Northern Africa and Western Asia — they have no natural insect enemies, and so proliferate.

At some point they escaped someone’s garden and is now spreading across the country. The plant was actually sold at some garden store, so here we are. It was a classic case of how a invasive plant is established and spreads: Poor plant choice by homeowners and landscapers. What starts off as an ornamental can get ugly real quick.

It is one of the more hated invasive plants. They form thick mats that choke out everything, covering forest floors, and in the photo above, the grounds of the historic Edwards Homestead in Sayville.

The only way to get rid of it is to laboriously dig up all the tubers. Even on this .3 acre plot, that is a lot of work. Once they are removed, that park should be planted with what was growing on that property back in 1785.

If we don’t actively remove the Lesser Celandine from the property, it will spread to adjoining properties — in fact, it already has. The Sayville community needs to work together to remove it, or it will continue to grow as a problem.

Lesser Celandine is an awful invasive plant. It could be worse though. You could be dealing with Japanese Knotweed or English Ivy.


  1. How about a comparison photo so people aren’t trashing our native and similar Marsh Marigold, caltha palustris.

  2. Just seeing this now somehow.

    Yes, they do look similar. One way Lesser Celandine can be distinguished from Marsh Marigold it is that it is so rampant once it gets going.

    Beyond that, a Plant ID app these days is right a great deal of the time. Run two apps to be extra sure.

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