Marsh marigold

Marsh marigold

It is a herbaceous perennial. The stems are about a foot in height, hollow, nearly round, erect, but at times creeping and rooting at intervals in the lower portions, which are generally of a purple colour.

Most of the leaves spring directly from the ground, on long stalks, kidney-shaped, large and glossy. The stem-leaves have very short stalks and are more pointed at the top.

It flowers from mid-March till the middle of June, the flowers being at the end of the stems, which divide into two grooved flowerstalks, each bearing one blossom, from 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The Marsh Marigold is closely allied to various species of buttercups, but the flower has no real corolla, the brilliant yellow cup being composed of the five petaloid sepals.

The generic name is derived from the Greek calathos (a cup or goblet), from the shape of its flowers; the specific name from the Latin palus (a marsh), in reference to its place of growth.

 It grows best where the ground is consistently wet and the light is shady, but there are many areas where it only gets marsh like conditions for a few weeks per year. The rest of the year, the conditions are dry with normal rainfall providing the water. As a matter of fact, my neighbor has theirs up on a mound that could not possibly stay wet all year.

Marsh marigolds bloom in early spring and are done blooming by late spring. After that, their dark green, ruffled heart shaped leaves make a great ground cover for the remainder of the year. From what I can tell, they are evergreen. So even in the winter months, they add a nice green color to an otherwise drab winter.

The flowers are yellow and are family to buttercups. It has knock-off petals that look like the petals you would pay big bucks for but in fact they are really petaloid sepals.

Best of all, when the rest of the garden is still trying to decide if it is safe to come out yet, marsh marigolds are dotting the world with little yellow spots of sunshine.

The real problem is that they are easy. Easy flowers just don’t get the respect that they should. The gardeners all talk about how great those wildflowers are but your big box nursery just would not approve of that kind of “wildflower” relationship.

Medicinal Action and Uses

Every part of the plant is strongly irritant, and cases are on record of serious effects produced by rashly experimenting with it. Dr. Withering says:
    'It would appear that medicinal properties may be evolved in the gaseous exhalations of plants and flowers, for on a large quantity of the flowers of Meadow Routs being put into the bedroom of a girl who had been subject to fits, the fits ceased.'

An infusion of the flowers was afterwards successfully used in various kinds of fits, both of children and adults.
A tincture made from the whole plant when in flower may be given in cases of anaemia in small, well-diluted doses.
The buds have occasionally been used as capers, but rather inadvisedly; the soaking in vinegar may, however, somewhat remove the acid and poisonous character of the buds in their fresh state.
The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach.
The juice of the petals, boiled with a little alum, stains paper yellow, but the colour so produced is said not to be permanent.


The Marsh Marigold is propagated by parting the roots in autumn. Itshould be planted in a moist soil and a shady situation. A double variety is cultivated in gardens.


Soil Type - Mucky
Soil pH - Neutral
Water - Wet
Light - Full sun to Partial shade


Height - Average 1 ft., up to 2 ft
Time of Bloom - April - June
Flower colors - Yellow
Propagation - Division
Transplants - Easily

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