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Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria): A Threat to Woodland Habitats in the Northern United States and Southern Canada

  • Annie E. Axtell (a1), Antonio DiTommaso (a2) and Angela R. Post (a3)


Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is an ephemeral perennial introduced to North America from Europe for ornamental use. This species is becoming widespread in shady, moist woodlands and lawns in the northern United States and southern Canada. Despite its invasive attributes, lesser celandine continues to be marketed by the nursery sector. A hardy and easy plant to grow, lesser celandine has a dense compact growth form that makes it ideal for border plantings and showy flowers that make it a desirable garden species for early spring color. The species easily escapes cultivation, colonizing primarily moist woodland habitats. Once established, lesser celandine creates a monoculture and is purported to displace native ephemeral species. Several factors make control of lesser celandine difficult, including a large root structure, which facilitates clonal reproduction and spread. The ephemerality of lesser celandine results in a relatively brief window in which to apply control measures. Land managers need to be aware of this common garden species as a potentially invasive weed and need to be able to differentiate it from the similar native marsh marigold. Effective management strategies are needed to protect native woodland understory species and biodiversity in natural and seminatural areas of affected regions.


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