Herb: Marsh Marigold


Latin name: Caltha palustris


Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)



Medicinal use of Marsh Marigold:

Every part of this plant is strongly irritant and so it should be used with caution. The whole plant is anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and rubefacient. It has been used to remove warts and is also used in the treatment of fits and anaemia. The root is antirheumatic, diaphoretic, emetic and expectorant. A decoction is used in the treatment of colds. A poultice of the boiled and mashed roots has been applied to sores. A tea made from the leaves is diuretic and laxative. All parts of the plant can irritate or blister the skin or mucous membranes.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Flovering:
March
to July

Habitat of the herb:

Wet areas in marshes, fens, ditches and wet alder woods. Rare on very base poor peat.

Edible parts of Marsh Marigold:

Root - must be well cooked. The raw root should not be eaten. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Flower buds - raw, cooked or pickled and used as a caper substitute. Eating the raw flower buds can lead to intoxication. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young leaves - raw or cooked. The leaves are harvested in the spring as the plant is coming into flower and is used like spinach after cooking in two or more changes of water. Eating the raw leaves can lead to intoxication. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Older leaves, before the plant flowers, can be eaten if they are well cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other uses of the herb:

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers, a saffron substitute. It is used as a dye when mixed with alum, though it is not very permanent. Plants can be grown for ground cover when planted about 45cm apart each way.

Propagation of Marsh Marigold:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame in late summer. Stand the pots in 2 - 3cm of water to keep the soil wet. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a tray of water in a cold frame until they are at least 15cm tall. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in early spring or autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Wet areas in marshes, fens, ditches and wet alder woods. Rare on very base poor peat.

Known hazards of Caltha palustris:

The whole plant, but especially the older portions, contains the toxic glycoside protoanemonin - this is destroyed by heat. The sap can irritate sensitive skin.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.