Thursday, May 07, 2009

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), seen in Taylor Creek Park

Marsh Marigold is another early spring flowering plant. It is not classified as an ephemeral, since it is found in swampy ground rather than as forest understory. It likes damp conditions and can be found on the banks of small streams and in swampy ground. The flower has no petals. The showing yellow petals are actually sepals or modified leaves.

Marsh Marigold is quite a common plant and can be found everywhere in the northern hemisphere. However, there are many varieties. Until recently it was identified as separate species before studies showed that the plant is highly adaptable to local conditions.

According to Wetland Plants of Ontario, all parts of the plant contain toxic chemicals called helleborin and protoanemonin. These can cause mild skin irritation and in some severe cases heart palpitations. So it's OK to take photos but don't try to pick it.

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