Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

On the edge of The Wild Wood

A few weeks ago I noticed some unusual leaves unfurling in The Wild Wood. The plant grew bigger and bigger, buds appeared near the top, this week delicate custard yellow flowers opened . . .

The plant is Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus), readers in North American may know it by the old English name the first settlers brought with them: Swallow Wort. Confusingly Greater Celandine is in no way related to the Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) which flowers much earlier in the year and is a member of the Buttercup family and has small narrow shiny golden petals like this . . .

Look closely and you can see that the Greater Celandine is in fact a kind of wild poppy, and like other poppies it has a sticky poisonous sap in its stems. The sap of the Greater Celandine is yellowy orange and is very toxic – in fact it burns! So best to look and not touch! In the past it was used to burn away warts and rather alarmingly for burning away cataracts from the eye! It is associated with old walls and stony pathsides in places that have been inhabited for centuries – maybe a relic from an ancient physic garden.

Yesterday lunchtime I took my lunch over to the opposite bank of the stream behind our Wild Wood and sat in the corner of the field beyond, there is a wide uncultivated field margin which hopefully helps biodiversity and the local wildlife.

As I wandered through the garden on my way to The Wild Wood I'd picked herbs and salad leaves a and added them to my lunch – you can't get a much fresher salad . . .

It wasn't long before the ginger studio assistant sniffed out the aroma of paté and tracked me down!

"Have you left some for me?!"


  1. oh my goodness cataracts!! That sounds horrible and it's such a pretty plant. Lovely lunch time - trying to make me jealous???

  2. You've made it sound so pretty I feel guilty for ripping it out from in front of the shed - it had grown into such a big plant that the door wouldn't open properly. Thank goodness I had my gloves on though!

  3. You are so lucky having greater celandine. There are a couple of plants in our churchyard but otherwise it's fairly uncommon round here.

  4. did you leave enough pate for the ginger one?

  5. Well thanks for that, we have an increasing patch of these in a corner of the garden, I didn't know what they were until now, I think I'll restrict them a bit or I may end up with too much of a good thing!


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