phytochemicals Phytochemicals

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Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Ranunculus ficaria

What is lesser celandine?

Lesser celandine is a common perennial indigenous to Europe and western Asia. The leaves are hairless, dark green and heart shaped. The solitary flowers are bright yellow and are formed on long peduncles in early in spring. Each yellow flower has 8 to 12 glossy petals backed by three sepals. The beautiful flowers open and close with the appearance and disappearance of the sun. The older flowers loose their bright yellow colour. The oblong roots of lesser celandine are up to 3cm long.

Parts used

Mainly the tubers are used and sometimes the whole lesser celandine plant is used. The whole plant is harvested when flowering in spring and dried for later use.


These are typical phytochemicals found in lesser celandine: protoanemonin, saponins, tannins.

Benefits of lesser celandine

Lesser celandine acts as an astringent and local demulcent.

The knobbly tubers of lesser celandine resemble piles. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, this resemblance suggests that lesser celandine could be used to cure piles or haemorrhoids. Lesser celandine is used locally as an ointment or suppository. Internal use is not recommended because of potential toxicity. The saponins are the main anti-haemorrhoidal components.

Fresh lesser celandine contains the phytochemical protoanemonin, which has a fungicidal action. The dried plant does not contain protoanemonin.

Other facts

In the past the young leaves, which are rich in vitamin C, were eaten as salad and used to treat scurvy. Older leaves can not be used because they contain the toxin protoanemonin. The buds of lesser celandine have been used as a substitute for capers.

Other names

Figwort, pilewort, smallwort

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