South Dakota Native Plant Research
Ranunculaceae : Caltha palustris

Ranunculaceae : Caltha palustris


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Family Name


Common Name

Marsh marigold


Caltha palustris is a fleshy perennial herb with a fibrous root system and hollow stems that grow from 20 to 80 cm in height. This species has both basal and alternate cauline leaves. The blades are nearly round with a chordate base and toothed margins, 3-12 cm long and 4-15 cm wide, with petioles that can reach 30 cm in length and form a stipule-like sheath at the node. The showy flowers are terminal and axillary, with usually 5-6 yellow petal-like sepals, 1-2.3 cm long. There are no petals, numerous stamens and 5-10 pistils. The fruit are recurved and divergent follicles, 8-17 mm long cand contain many small seeds ~ 2mm in diameter. Marsh marigolds bloom in April and May in wet woods, marshes and bogs, often in standing water, in eastern South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Marsh marigolds make a colorful addition to a pond or other water feature. The leaves are glossy and the flowers are eye-catching, lasting into the early summer. Beetles, bees and flies act as pollinators.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: The follicles change from green to yellowish brown toward June. These fruit can be collected and allowed to dry in a paper bag.

Germination: Seeds can be sown in the fall near the water’s edge or given a 60-day cold moist treatment before spring planting. Seed germination rate tend to be quite low. Starting treated seed in the greenhouse has a higher success rate.

Vegetative propagation: Large clumps of plants can be divided after flowering is complete.

Soils: Muddy, organically rich soils.

Light: Full sun to shade.

Water: Moist to wet. They do well in shallow standing water early in the season.

Ranunculaceae : Caltha palustris