Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Caltha palustris

Yellow marsh marigold, Cowslip

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Caltha palustris (Yellow marsh marigold)
Sherman, Doug
A succulent plant with glossy, heart- or kidney-shaped leaves and a thick, hollow, branching stem with bright, shiny yellow flowers. Yellow marsh-marigold is a mounded perennial, 1-2 ft. tall, with thick stems; broadly heart-shaped leaves; and clusters of large, showy, buttercup-like, yellow flowers.

The flowers of this showy spring plant resemble large buttercups rather than the marigolds. The leaves are sometimes used as potherbs but require several short boilings with changes of water between. They should not be eaten raw. A smaller species, Floating Marsh Marigold (C. natans), found from Alaska southeastward to northern Minnesota, has small white or pinkish flowers, kidney-shaped leaves, and stems that often float.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AK , CA , CT , DE , IL , IN , IA , KY , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MO , NE , NH , NJ , NY , NC , ND , OH , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VT , VA , WA , WV , WI
Canada: BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Transcontinental Canada, s. to NC, TN & IA
Native Habitat: Wet woods, marshy hollows, stream edges

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Muddy, humus-rich soil.
Conditions Comments: Marsh marigold requires little care other than protection from drying, winter and early spring winds.


Use Food: EDIBLE PARTS: Cooked, early spring greens are edible. Cover the young leaves with 2-3 changes of boiling water until barely tender; cut into bite-sized pieces, salt lightly, and cover with butter and some vinegar. Tightly closed buds can be pickled after covering with boiling water as described for leaves. Do not boil. The leaves are sometimes used as potherbs but require several short boilings with changes of water between. (Niering)
Warning: Plant juices can cause blistering or inflammation on skin or mucous membranes on contact, and gastric illness if ingested. POISONOUS PARTS: Leaves. Toxic only in large quantities. Symptoms include burning of the throat, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, and convulsions. Toxic Principle: Protoanemonin. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2016-03-02