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Marsh Marigold and Primroses Two Wild Spring Beautys

Updated on August 7, 2015

Photograph of Marsh Marigold Flowers

Marigold flowers are golden yellow and show the stamens quite clearly.
Marigold flowers are golden yellow and show the stamens quite clearly.

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

Two spring plants that cheer up the countryside with their yellow blooms,are the Marshmarigold and the primrose. The first of these under review is the marsh marigold,Caltha palustris which as aquired a range of country titles which includes King cups,water blobs,horse blobs, Bull's eyes, Meadow routs, and marsh blob.

The common name and mash blobs are apt descriptions of this plant for wherever muddy conditions prevail this plant will thrive and is very likely to be encountered. In such situations it is one of the first species to brighten up the locality with its bright yellow buttercup like flowers. It is a common species wide spread in its distribution.

Basic Biology of the Marsh Marigold

The root system is a stout creeping rhizome which send up fleshy stems about 30 cm {1 foot } high. These stems are hollow and sometimes erect in habit but depending on the growing situation they may lie across the ground in this situation the stems may root at intervals. Other times they spread out over water. The whole plant is hairless.

The foliage is in the main basal which occur on long stalks, they are kidney shaped to heart shaped relatively large and glossy.

Photograph of Leave Stalk.


Stem Leaves and Flowers

The stem leaves are on very short stalks and tend to be more pointed in form. They are finely toothed along the margins. The bright golden yellow buttercup like flowers appear from mid March until June and are borne at the end of the stems which split into two grooved flower stalks each bearing a single bloom.

The individual flowers are up to 5 cm across {2 inches} but they are usually a bit smaller than this. The flowers produce many quite visible stamens which are numerous. In common with many of their relatives such as the wood anemone, the flowers do not have petals but petal like sepals {tepals}. These buttercup like flowers confirm they are a member of the Ranunculaceae. All members of this family are poisonous in varying degrees, the marsh marigold is no exception. It is regarded as being "mildly" poisonous and not recommended for internal use.

The genus name Caltha derives from the Greek kalathos meaning a cup or goblet alluding to the shape of the flowers. The species name derives from the Latin palus meaning a marsh, alluding to habitat. The common name of marigold-there are two schools of thought concerning the name.

a-It alludes to its past uses in church festivals, particularly during the Middle Ages as being the "golden" flowers dedicated to the Virgin Mary,ie, Mary's Gold.

b-Some believe it derives from the Anglo-Saxon Merso-meargealla their name for the marsh marigold.

Medicinal Uses

The following notes are to be taken in an historical context as the plant is not recommended for home made preparations, either for medicinal or culinary purposes. Every part of the plant is considered to be very irritant.

An infusion was once used to relieve the symptoms of fits in both children and adults in well diluted doses, a tincture of the herb was used to treat the symptoms of anaemia. The buds have been used as capers, but this is no longer recommended. Although some of the poisonous properties are somewhat diminished by being soaked in vinegar compared to the fresh plant.

The leaves have been cooked and eaten in the manner of spinach in the past.

In modern day homeopathy it is used for treating blistery rashes, whooping cough, bronchial catarrh and menstrual problems.

Garden Varieties

Apart from the native Caltha palustris there are other species of the plant that are suitable for the garden situations, such as C.introloba which is a tuft forming perennial , a small growing herb 5-6cm. They produce dark glossy leaves which oval-oblong in form. The erect flower stems bear goblet shaped flowers and they bloom in late winter. This is an excellent species for containers or in an alpine house . It prefers shade and is difficult to grow in hot dry climates.

C.leptosepala which is classed as a deciduous perennial for water sides and the margins of ponds. They have dark green leaves and buttercup like flowers which are white and produced in spring. They attain the height of 30cm {1 foot}

C."Fora Plena" is another marginal species with rounded, dark green leaves. This species produces clusters of Double flowers in spring. They attain the height of 25cm {ten inches}.

Marsh Marigold in a Garden Situation


The Primrose

A sheet of primroses in an open woodland and other aspects of light shade are a joy to encounter in spring. The rootstock is perennial and knobbly in nature which displays the original base marks of fallen leaves. it is surrounded by many branched rootlets.

The foliage is egg shaped and oblong about 12 cm long {5 inches} when they are fully developed, tapering into a winged stalk. The veins are prominent beneath and hairy, the margins are irregularly toothed.

The flowers are borne on separate stalks. Primrose flowers are instantly recognised by many people but those of a more inquisitive nature will note the plant produces two types of flower. looking at these two types of flower as one does from above they look almost identical. They will only be distinguished by close attention to their detail. The two types appear on different plants and the two will never be encountered together on the same plant. They are known as "Pin eyed" flowers and "Thrum eyed" flowers, but this is often shortened to Pin and Thrum.

In the centre of the Pin flowers there is a green head on the stigma which resembles a pin head hence the name. While in the centre of the Thrum flowers there are five anthers in a tiny ring around the tube but they lack the PIn.

Primrose flower type

The Pin type flower
The Pin type flower
The Thrum type flower
The Thrum type flower

Pollination of the Primrose

This complex arrangement of the flowers ensures pollination by insects with long tongues such as bees and moths.

Medicinal Uses of the Primrose.

The primrose has long been used medicinally, but more so in days gone by. The whole herb was utilised with different components being employed in various ways. The roots of 2-3 year old plant were dug up and thoroughly cleaned in cold water then dried. Infusions of the root was taken in small doses as an effectual remedy against nervous headaches. A small dose of the powdered root was employed as an emetic.

The plant was considered to be sedative in nature. An infusion of the flowers was formerly given to patients that displayed hysterical disorders. Most of these uses have now been replaced by other herbs which are thought to be more efficient.

Garden Primulas

The species of the genus Primula are varied and employed in all their forms in gardens to brighten up the last dark days of winter and to cheerfully meet the spring. The primulas split into groups known as the Candelabra, Polyanthus and Auricula.

Those that are more directly linked to the primrose in form and foliage shape have been bred to display some beautifully coloured flowers. The name Primrose derives from the Latin Prima rosa meaning the first rose an apt description for this early flowering group of plants.

Garden Varieties of the Genus

Red flowered polyantthus type.
Red flowered polyantthus type.
Pink flowered Primula
Pink flowered Primula | Source
Primula yellow flowered
Primula yellow flowered | Source




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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      saif113sb, thank you and best wishes to you.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      saif113sb, Thank you for taking the time to visit and for leaving your comment. Best wishes to you.

    • saif113sb profile image


      7 years ago

      Great information hub. thanks

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      peggy W always nice to see you here. Thank you so much for your kind comments. it is a pleasure to share my part of the world with you and find I am being educated about the wonders in your part of the world through your excellent hubs. best wishes to you.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      It was a delight getting to see these beautiful marsh marigolds and primroses and other flowers and learning a bit about how they are propagated and grown via your hub. Your hubs are always a feast for the eyes and spirit! Up and beautiful!

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Trish_M, your welcome hope you find something suitable.

      Hi B, You are so right what a tragic world at present. Glad the pictures cheered you up, after your personal loss, love and best wishes to you and yours.

    • Joy56 profile image


      7 years ago

      A bright colour to brighten up the sad news on t.v. all the time, The country side is always producing wonderful things, and we can always count on you to show us as they spring up. Great pics.... Brenda

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      7 years ago from The English Midlands

      Thanks, DAL, for that information!

      I'll have a look :)

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      darski thank you once again for being the first to visit. I have been over to your hubs and will again very soon. Love and best wishes to you my friend.

      rebekahELLE Thank you for your visit and for your warm comments. Now that spring is arriving we have lots to look forward to. Best wishes to you.

      Trish_M Your father passed on a precious gift. marsh marigolds are common in England, sorry they seem to be absent from your locality. However, if you have a garden or even a tub they can be bought from nurseries. There are several varieties of Caltha to choose from. Best wishes to you.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      7 years ago from The English Midlands

      A lovely read! :)

      My late father loved primroses, cowslips and marsh marigolds ~ and he passed on that love to me.

      Buttercups are real favourites of mine ~ and marsh marigolds are very similar in many ways. Quite rare, though. I haven't seen many of them.

    • rebekahELLE profile image


      7 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Your hubs are pure pleasure to read and to enjoy the beautiful photographs. It is now time to plant and I'm so excited to see new flowers. I hope many gardeners find your hubs, they're so helpful! Thanks for sharing here at HP!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Hello my dear friend, oh how I love your passion for the delightful feast for the eyes to see, and for our hearts to beat with a skip. I sure miss your visits to my hubs,but I love this hub, it is a great journey, and I thank you for the splender of it all. rate up up love & peace darski


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