Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Marsh marigold is a widespread plant found in damp areas such as riversides and ponds. It is quite a conspicuous little spring flower which looks quite like a common buttercup. It is in fact a member of the buttercup family, but its bright yellow flowers are much larger and has very rounded, glossy green leaves. Caltha palustris is an herbaceous plant which grows to about 30cm high on thick stocky stems before it dies back in autumn. Its flowers shoot up above the leaves while still curled up before opening to enjoy the spring sunshine.

Photo credit: Karen Oliver, Orangefield Park

Latin name Caltha is derived from the Greek for 'goblet'. Hence, Marsh marigold is also commonly known as 'Kingcup'. It is normal for plants to have a range of common names which normally differ depending where you live.

Examples of the Marsh marigolds other common names are Mayflower, May Blob, Mare Blob, Cow Lily, Water Boots, Meadow Buttercup, Water Buttercup, Meadow-bright, Bullflower, Soldier's Buttons, Meadow Cowslip, Water Cowslip, Meadow Gowan, Water Gowan, Yellow Gowan, Crowfoot, Goldes, Cow Lily, Marybuds, to name just a few.

That is why the ‘official’ Latin names are so important as they allow us all to make sure we are all talking about the same thing!

Photo credit: Paul Hunter, Dixon Playing Fields

Where to find it?

The Marsh marigold is regarded as a very ancient plant and is thought to have been growing here before the last Ice age. Considering that glacial period is said to have lasted from around 21,000 years ago until 12,000 years ago, it is a very old plant and not surprising that it has developed to like the water.

It can be seen all along the riverside and wetland areas of the Greenway at the minute and its bright yellow flowers are a welcome patches of early colour and food for bees and other insects.

Be Part of it…

Thanks to our Greenway photographers who have sent in images of the Marsh Marigold. Keep snapping other colourful signs of spring when you are out and about!