Caltha palustris L.
Yellow Marsh Marigold, Cowslip
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
USDA Symbol: capa5
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Fruit Type: Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AK , CA , CT , DE , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
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 ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
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.
BenefitUse 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
PropagationDescription: Seeds should be sown immediately upon ripening and should not be allowed to dry out before sowing. Seedlings do not flower until the third year following germination. Also reproduces rapidly by division.
Seed Collection: Approximate collection date in northern U.S.: early to mid Jun.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Caltha palustris in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Caltha palustris in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Caltha palustris
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-01-31
Research By: TWC Staff