by Connie Oswald Stofko
I’ve been getting emails from people wanting to know what to do with lawns filled with lesser celandine.
My best advice is to not let it get that far.
Dig it up now. And do it this year when you have only a few patches!
This is a serious weed, said Carol Ann Harlos, Master Gardener, garden writer and speaker.
“You have two choices,” Harlos said. “You can either spend the time and dig it out or you can buy Roundup. Spray Roundup on the leaves and it goes into the roots.”
Last year she also told us that you could try solarization, which might or might not work. The idea is to cook the roots by covering an area with black plastic. Keep the plastic there for several months. See the previous article for a few more details.
Lesser celandine is so troublesome because you have to kill the roots, and that is difficult. It has tiny tubers. If you try to dig it up and miss a tuber or even break a tuber, the piece left in the ground can generate a new plant, she explained.
If you see just a few spots, it’s relatively easy to take care of. But if your lawn is covered with it, it’s a mess.
Some people give up and just ignore lesser celandine, but this invasive plant can get into woods and other natural areas and choke out native species, Harlos noted in last year’s article.
Help your lawn. Help your neighbors. Help our natural areas.
Dig up lesser celandine before it gets out of hand.
Note: Don’t confuse lesser celandine with greater celandine. Lesser celandine is toxic— Don’t eat it! It is also called pilewort and its scientific name is Ficaria verna. That is the plant that so many gardeners in Western New York are struggling with.
The plant with a similar name is greater celandine or tetterwort, whose scientific name is Chelidonium majus. It is used medicinally. I don’t know if you can grow it in our area, and it probably won’t show up in your yard on its own. You can find out more about greater celandine’s medicinal uses here, which also warns readers against confusing it with lesser celandine.