Lesser Celandine

Botanical name – Ranunculus ficaria

Family – Ranunculaceae

Lesser celandine general information

Lesser Celandine

Lesser celandine is an early spring time turf weed from the buttercup family. It is notoriously difficult to control with selective weed killers

Lesser celandine is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). This perennial weed is abundant during early spring into the early summer period, with its rich yellow flowers creating a mass of colour that often resembles a yellow carpet.

It is very common along hedgerows, woodland areas, grassy banks and in grassy areas, especially where the soil is damp. It is rarely troublesome in fine turf and is more confined to un-managed lawns and turf. Its growing height ranges from 5cm – 25cm.

Ranunculus ficaria

During the early growing season the flowers can produce a carpet of yellow under hedgerows, woodland and ditch banks

Lesser celandine is one of the first weeds to appear in the growing season, before it disappears again by mid May. This weed grows from small, swollen root tubers and it spreads via by tubercles (bulbils (small swollen buds)). The root tubers enable this plant to survive the winter months.

Lesser celandine identification

Lesser celandine leaves

The heart shaped leaves have a glossy surface, which makes it difficult for chemicals to stick to them

The glossy, heart shaped leaves measure between 10 – 40mm in length and are dark green in colour. On rare occasions the leaves may have scalloped or toothed edges. Although the surface of the leaf is smooth, they have prominent veins and can have a variegated appearance to them.

Lesser celandine flowers

The bright yellow flowers

The bright yellow flowers (which can fade to white) are between 20 – 30mm in diameter, with 8 – 12 narrowly oval petals. Each plant can produce several flowers bourne on long stalks. The flowering period is generally between March and May.

Lesser Celandine Roots

Lesser celandine roots

Prevention and control of lesser celandine

Although hand weeding is possible, great care is required as hand removal can easily disperse the tubercles (small buds), which will only assist in spreading them further.

Lesser celandine is also a difficult weed to eradicate using chemicals, as it is resistant to most selective herbicides. In almost all cases two or three applications of weed killer will be needed to control this turf weed.

This means the initial application needs applying as soon as the leaves are developed, as early as March. A further application will be required about 6 weeks after the initial treatment, before the weed dies away again during the month of May.

Even then the weed will probably return again the following spring. The most effective selective herbicides for lesser celandine should contain the ingredient MCPA.

An alternative method is to use a Glyphosate dabber or gel stick. Glyphosate is a total weed killer that controls everything it comes into contact with, including the grass. Taking great care, use the dabber or stick to dab the chemical in to the leaf of the weed. Avoid getting any of the chemical on the grass or it will die.

Work backwards when treating weeds this way, to avoid walking over what has previously been treated.

Recommended chemicals for the control of lesser celandine


Recommended products for lesser celandine control

Professional products (The user requires the appropriate certificate/s to apply these products)

Headland Relay Turf (Mecoprop-p, Dicamba, MCPA)
React Ultra (Mecoprop-p, Dicamba, MCPA)
Mascot Greenor (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)
Vitax Esteem (2,4-D, Clopyralid, MCPA)
Bayer Longbow (Mecoprop-p, Dicamba, MCPA)

Products available for non-professional use (These products are available from garden centres and DIY stores.)

Verdone extra (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)
Resolva lawn weed killer (2,4-D, Mecoprop-p, MCPA, Dicamba)
Vitax Lawn Clear (2,4-D, Clopyralid, MCPA)
Vitax Green up weed & feed (Dicamba, MCPA)
Weedol lawn weed killer (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)