Greater celandine is also known as chelidonium majus and, more colloquially, tetterwort or swallowwort. It is a herbaceous wildflower and a native species of the UK. Its luscious butter-yellow flowers are guaranteed to add a delightful splash of colour to any garden. These flowers grow at the top of the plant and form appealingly bright umbels that can stand out in even the most colourful setting. Greater celandine is also a perennial plant, which means that it lives in excess of two years. So gardeners can expect to see the same plant put forth flowers year after year!
Greater celandine flowers between June and August. However, its distinctive blade-pinnate leaves have an interesting bluish underside that helps the plant stay visually pleasing the whole year round. These leaves are particularly noticeable because they extend from the main stem of the plant on alternating stalks.
This beautiful yellow wild flower can also attract some equally beautiful fauna to your garden, thanks to its fascinating method of pollination. Rather than producing nectar, as most flowers do, greater celandine relies primarily on ants to spread its seeds: the ants enjoy eating the seeds’ elaiosomes and end up dragging the seeds with them as they feed. Because of this, celandine has been known to attract ant-eating birds such as woodpeckers and wrynecks. Quiet gardeners who leave their plants undisturbed might be lucky enough to spot these birds if they come to feed near the celandine.
Traditional uses for greater celandine
Of course, greater celandine hasn’t always been used just to brighten up gardens and attract wildlife. Before the age of modern medicine, the plant was traditionally used as a cure for various ailments. Today, some herbalists still use it as a treatment for indigestion. However, despite its medicinal properties, greater celandine is also very poisonous, and we don’t recommend harvesting it for use as a herbal remedy; an incorrect or inexpertly-administered dose is likely to cause more problems than it solves and may be fatal. Nowadays, it’s far better to leave the practice of medicine to doctors and keep your greater celandine for purely aesthetic purposes.
Planting greater celandine
Some of you may be wondering if your garden can support this plant at all. There’s no need to worry about that; because it has a strong central taproot, this deceptively resilient wildflower can grow in almost any garden. In the wild, it can be found growing everywhere from rocky embankments to verdant woodlands. Greater celandine is one of the most versatile and vibrant flowers we offer on our rolls of MeadowMat and we think any garden could benefit from it!