What is this charismatic yellow wildflower, you may ask? It’s lesser celandine (Ficaria verna)… an invasive perennial that can be found across the Chesapeake watershed. This ephemeral species is native to Europe, Asia and Africa; herbarium specimens from PA are dated as far back as the mid 1860s.

The basal rosette growth is mat-forming and frequently found in moist conditions, like stream sides or floodplains. The dense mat the plant forms is a serious cause for concern! Native ephemeral species cannot out-compete the growth habit of lesser celandine. Lesser celandine is readily propagated through its bulbils.

Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) bulbs.

Bulbils are essentially a small bulb. Bulbils are a form of vegetative (clonal) reproduction, so each small bulb contains the same genetic material as the parent plant. The parent plant in the picture above had over 15 bulbils!

If you see something blooming, leafing out, ripening, or otherwise changing in your woods, send us photos (forestsforthebay@gmail.com) to include in next month’s Forests for the Bay newsletter for more phenological fun!