One day, a child called out to me: “I have seen some plants in the grass, but I do not know them, what are their names?”
After I answered his question, he seemed to find them much brighter: celandine, buttercup, chelidonia, cowslip, daffodil.
And from then on, every spring he could identify them straight away.
The colour yellow is present in things by nature, bringing a bit of light to forgotten floral lives, even eliminated ones.
The colour yellow symbolises a stimulating radiance and friendship. It is a solar tint of existence, that enables us to refocus and reflect in our hectic lives.
Two flowers, seemingly twin, of this fiery spring colour, take shape before our eyes as soon as the woodland melodies return.
They resist the last frosts with determination. They are named: the lesser celandine and the buttercup.
At first glance, the yellow florets of these perennial buttercups are attractive thanks to their brilliance.
The two types of flowers look rather similar, but you can discover their differences by watching closely to them.
These two flowers both grow in our beautiful region, in harmony with the yellow of the rapeseed fields. They spread a foretaste of summer thanks to the warm and comforting colour of gold.
Their motto “to flourish” is a compilation of the verbs “to bloom and shine”.
The lesser celandine, « Ranunculus ficaria », which name indicates an amphibian environment, is also called: sunshine, butter pot, haemorrhoid grass, little chelidonia, little buttercup.
Before the foliage, numerous glossy leaves in the shape of tiny vegetal hearts form thick green carpets on the ground, dotted with stars that look like small suns in the acid undergrowth.
Sometimes, surprisingly, some yellow dots decorate shaded motorway rest area: here it is, our reckless lesser celandine and its ornaments.
It was named “woodcutter’s spinach” as it is rich in vitamin C and could help the woodcutters as wells as the sailors to prevent the scurvy epidemic happening during the Renaissance period.
They used to eat it raw in salads before the flower buds appeared or cooked in order to destroy its poisonous alkaloid.
In the past, farmers would give it to their cows to encourage lactation.
With a height of 30 cm, its fragile peduncles bend and break at the slightest impact. The corolla, with an opening of 1.5 cm, closes in rainy weather exactly like the daisy.
It has 8 to 12 inequal petals, which is unusual. They are maintained by a protective calyx and 3 green sepals.
The organs of the lesser celandine are partially sterile. The flower reproduces subtly using other strategies.
Indeed, underneath the leaves are some bulbous growths the size of a grain of wheat, which end up falling to the ground when they mature. Water carries away these tiny parts, which will then germinate and root somewhere else.
Its underground development is composed of a stock of ovoid tubers.
Illustration on the right: anatomical drawing of the lesser celandine
The lesser celandines were eaten in prehistoric times and used from the 18th century onward for the treatment of human haemorrhoids and bovine wart, following the “signature theory”.
Sometimes, parents play with a flower of lesser celandine, putting it under their children’s chins, thus seeking their inclination to butter through its reflection.
Soon, you will discover its yellow fraternal twin, the buttercup.
With the authorization of l’Est Eclair / Libération Champagne