Native plants aren’t the only ones gearing up for showing off this spring. Invasive plants are already beginning to make themselves known:
This species was first spotted three years ago along the bank of a culvert inlet. It was mistaken for Marsh Marigold the first year.
The second year (2015), it did not fool us. The emerging Lesser Celandine plants and bulblets were removed with hand tools. After they were dug up, all plant material was thrown away in the household garbage can. To avoid infecting other areas, composting or use of city-sponsored garden debris cans were not an option.
The plant is native throughout Europe and west Asia. It was introduced to North America as an ornamental. But, as soon as it jumped the garden wall, Lesser Celandine has been deemed “invasive.” This low-growing, perennial, fleshy dark green, heart-shape-leaved plant has very nasty habits out in the wild.*
Native spring ephemeral wildflowers often don’t stand a chance because the Ranunculus ficaria leaves appear in late winter and, once the plant multiplies in great numbers, they form dense mats which prevent the growth of most other plants. In fact, the Environmental Services folks in Portland, Oregon nick-named this plant “Death-in-dirt.”
It blooms from March until May with bright yellow flowers that are symmetrical with a slightly darker center and grow on separate stalks above the leaves. The number of petals on each flower ranges from six to 26. Double-bloom varieties have up to 60 petals. Lesser celandine is noted for having three green sepals, the supporting leaves attached to the base of the flower; look-alikes don’t have sepals.
Lesser Celandine prefers damp, shady locations and is spread by seed, but also more importantly, through small bulblets which are easily distributed in disturbed areas. Lesser Celandine seeds and bulblets are moved by soil movement which makes its removal from our watershed imperative. If left to grow on the bank of a flowing stream… floating seeds and bulblets gain a tremendous advantage to extend the areas invaded by Lesser Celandine.
If seen… go dig and toss… immediately!
* I suspect our wetland property was infected by seeds or bulbs that found their way into the storm sewer from a suburban yard in the neighborhood behind us. A culvert empties directly into the riparian zone. We hope to find a remedy to this problem.
Photo challenge: “Seasons“