Lesser celandine: Take steps now to get rid of it!

lesser celandine in Amherst NY
Lesser celandine is a pretty little plant, but it can destroy your lawn and invade wild spaces. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

We have talked about lesser celandine for several years, yet I see more and more of it in my neighborhood.

If you see this pretty little plant in your yard, get rid of it! And tell your neighbors to get rid of it, too.

If you don’t get rid of when you have just a few plants, it can take over your yard.

Plus, it can get into wild areas and create havoc there.

Lesser celandine can outcompete native plants, explained Carol Ann Harlos, Master Gardener, garden writer and speaker. Lesser celandine is an invasive species that blooms before many native plants do, gets the sunlight first, gets the nutrients from the soil first and it flowers first. In addition, animals generally don’t eat it. With all those advantages, it can choke out the native plants that animals depend on.

lesser celandine in yard
Lesser celandine can take over your yard. Photo courtesy Jo Anne Gerbec

How to get rid of lesser celandine

tubers of lesser celandine next to penny by Stofko
To get rid of lesser celandine, you have to kill or dig up the roots. See how tiny the tubers are? If you leave any tubers in the ground, this plant can spread. Try to get them all! Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

There are basically two ways to get rid of lesser celandine: dig it out or use herbacide. If you’re desperate, you might try solarization.

Dig it out

Digging out lesser celandine is difficult because 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.

If you have just a few patches of lesser celandine, digging works well. It worked for me.


Unfortunately, the time to use herbicide has already passed this year. Herbicide needs to be applied before the lesser celandine starts to flower, said Andrea Locke, coordinator of WNY PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management).

If you would like to try using an herbicide, “The best plan would be to clearly mark the area now, while the lesser celandine is in full bloom, and plan to treat in early to mid-April next year,” Locke said.

Common active ingredients found in herbicides for lesser celandine are triclopyr, glyphosate and dicambia, she said. You can find these herbacides in garden centers and other stores.

Don’t be fooled if it seems like the lesser celandine has magically disappeared. The plants are spring ephemerals and will die back over the summer, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone. They will come back again next spring and there will be more of them.


To get rid of lesser celandine, you can also try a method called solarization, where you cover the area with black plastic and try to cook the roots. It may not work well, Harlos said, but you can try it if you have a large area and you’re desperate.

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13 Comments on “Lesser celandine: Take steps now to get rid of it!

  1. Would be interested to know more about eating creeping charlie. If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em!

  2. Candice, It sounds like you might have creeping charlie. See more here. Creeping charlie does spread a lot, but if it doesn’t bother you, you can let it be. You can even eat creeping charlie!

  3. I have a lot of what looks like this weed, but the flowers are purple. They have the same heart shaped leaves. Almost afraid to ask, is this also the invasive weed i need to dig up? Thank you very much.

  4. Will be on the look out…Thank you for the heads up. Just what to do with the dug ups???
    Same problem I have when removing poison ivy. Where can you put it that it doesn’t cause more problems?

  5. Glyphosate is in Round Up and is getting a lot of press lately about being a carcinogen and causing lymphoma. Please don’t use Round Up or herbicides ever. Digging up is a pain, I know, but you will get some nice arm muscles. I use a mix of dish detergent, salt and vinegar on weeds as needed. It may not always kill the weed, but sometimes weakens them enough to make the digging easier later.

  6. We have yet to use any pesticides or herbicides; this stuff is all over our flower garden; we are laboriously trying to dig it out before the weather gets very hot.Pain in the butt!

  7. Betty, I didn’t realize the timing was so critical. I now have it on my schedule for March or April next year. Digging will make a difference. Good luck!

  8. It’s all over the fields in Lake View. Not sure what to do about such a huge infestation.

  9. Thank you Carol Ann Harlos. Boy do I have it. Please remind us next year early April. Meanwhile, I’m digging.

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