Monday, April 20, 2009
Pretty Yellow Flowers
There is nothing like a splash of color in the landscape after a long dreary winter. So you’d think that folks would be excited and happy to see Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria which started blooming a couple weeks ago. It is still blooming now. You will most likely see it in low lying, moist areas such as stream banks. For a close look, go to the park in Edison along the Neshaminy Creek or the North Branch of Neshaminy Creek where it crosses Rt 611, south of Plumsteadville.
Besides the eight petaled, yellow flowers that rise slightly above the foliage, you’ll see that the very dark green, shinny leaves are kidney/heart shaped and somewhat waxy. Below ground you’ll find finger like tubers. Late in the season, cream colored aerial bulblets will form along the stems. You’ll only see it from March until June; then it fades away. It is often found in large, expansive masses. Once you have an eye for Lesser Celandine you’ll see it in other places. A friend’s entire small back yard is composed of it at this time of year.
This exotic (not native), invasive plant is called a spring ephemeral. It emerges before the hardwood trees leaf out, grows enough foliage to store energy in underground tubers, produces flowers and above ground bulblets and then fades away.
Ephemeral. But very invasive and does not play well with other plants. It will out-compete less aggressive ephemerals. The pretty tout lily is emerging now too and it does not appear to have a chance to win a battle for space and light with lesser celandine. That’s the problems with these invasive exotics. They are better adapted to their new home than the natives.If you see an isolated lesser celandine plant, kill it... or plan to enjoy it forever.
If this plant is getting the better of your landscape, you can apply glyphosate (Roundup, other names) now and get some control. If there are infestations near-by or if you live along a steam you’ll probably get re-infested via aerial bulblets. In drier, isolated landscape settings you might will the battle. Where very small infestations exist, just shovel it out. Be sure to get the tubers.