Take Your Medicine

Greater Celandine
Greater Celandine

Today’s picture is of Greater Celandine, or Chelidonium Majus – if you want to get fancy. Interestingly, the Maj part of Majus could easily refer to the month of May, so it could be translated as the Celandine that flowers in May. The Celandine part is a corrupted form of the Greek chelidon – a swallow. This gives us a plant that flowers in May when the swallows come – and that would be pretty hard to argue with.

The Lesser Celandine (which has now been superseded along our verges by a veritable host of Dandelions) is a mere buttercup cousin, and not related to the Greater Celandine in any way. Our May flowering Celandine is actually a poppy and the flower’s yellow colouring is caused by the same chemicals that infuse the Welsh Poppy.

The Celandine’s medicinal use goes back to Anglo Saxon times, it has been prescribed for centuries for an assortment of ills, so naturally it is quite poisonous. As a hint, Mother Nature gave it an extremely bitter taste, so in order to kill yourself with it, you would either have to take it for an extended period of time, or cram fistfuls of it down, despite ever increasing nausea and vomiting.

Oh, and be careful how you handle it – the sap burns your skin – it was once used to remove warts.

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