Ranunculus ficaria (NL: Gewoon speenkruid /EN: Lesser Celandine or Pilewort) flowers from March until May, and is sometimes called the "spring messenger" as a consequence. In bad weather, the yellow flowers remain closed but on sun the flower spreads wide open. The plants can form real "carpets" on the forest floor but not higher than 10 cm. Ranunculus ficaria exists in both diploid (2n=16) and tetraploid (2n=32) forms which are very similar in appearance. However, the tetraploid type prefer more shady locations and frequently develops bulbils at the base of the stalk. These two variants are sometimes referred to as distinct sub-species,R. ficaria ficaria and R. ficaria bulbifer respectively. The plant used to be known as Pilewort, as it was used to treat haemorrhoids. Supposedly the knobbly tubers of the plant resemble piles, and according to the Doctrine of signatures this resemblance suggests that pilewort could be used to cure piles. The plant is found throughout Europe and west Asia and prefers bare, damp ground.
Image: Ranst (BE) - 15/03/2011
© Johan Dierckx
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