FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME
Chelidonium majus L.
FAMILY NAME COMMON
FAMILY SCIENTIFIC NAME
Chelidonium majus is a brittle, herbaceous biennial that reaches 30-80 cm (11-31 in.) in height. Its stems are ribbed and branching. The lower parts of the branches are pubescent. When the branches or leaves are broken a yellowish-orange sap can be seen. The alternate cauline leaves can be up to 35 cm (13 in.) in length, with petioles measuring 2-10 cm (0.75-4 in.) long. The thin leaf blades are glaucous beneath, deeply 5-9 lobed and are irregularly dentate around the margins. The veins of the lower leaf surfaces have fine, short hairs. The bright yellow flowers of Chelidonium majus are contained in axillary pedunculate umbels. The peduncle itself measures 2-10 cm (0.75-4in.) long. Each flower has four obovate to oblong petals that measure about 1 cm (0.4in.) wide. This plant usually flowers from May to June. The "lumpy" capsules are linear to oblong-shaped and measure 2-5 cm (0.75-2 in.) in length. Within the capsule are black seeds with reticulate pitting on their surface. Page References Bailey 428, Fernald 680, Flora of North America 302, Gleason and Cronquist 67, Holmgren 64, Magee & Ahles 526, Newcomb 142, Peterson & McKenny 130. See reference section below for full citations.
Glaucium flavum Crantz. (Yellow hornpoppy), Stylophorum diphyllum (Michx.) Nutt (Celandine poppy)*, Cardamine impatiens L. (Bushy rock-cress)** *Stylophorum diphyllum is non-native to New England (it is native futher south), but is often cultivated. **The basal rosettes of Cardamine impatiens could be confused for Chelidonium majus. The leaves of Chelidonium majus are pubescent, while those of Cardamine impatiens are glabrous.
The seeds of this plant are ant-dispersed. This movement is facilitated by an elaiosome on the seed which attracts the ants so that they move it.
Chelidonium majus is native to Eurasia from Spain to Turkey and Russia, north to Great Britain and Ireland and south to North Africa. In the United States it is located from Maine to Georgia and west to Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri. There are also reports of it in Washington, Montana and Utah. This plant has been reported from all the states of New England.
HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND
Chelidonium majus was most likely introduced into New England as an herbal remedy for skin diseases. It was reported to be in New England herb gardens as early as 1672. From these gardens the plant became naturalized and spread across the landscape.
HABITATS IN NEW ENGLAND
Early Successional Forest, Edge, Floodplain Forest, Open Disturbed Area, Roadside, Vacant Lot, Wet Meadow, Yard or Garden. Chelidonium majus is most often found in disturbed areas especially with moist soil. Conceivably its seeds could be moved to other habitats by ants.
Chelidonium majus can become abundant in minimally managed situations, and can outcompete other native herbaceous plants.
Documentation required: Habit shot with fruits or flowers. Best time for documentation: Spring, summer
Integrated Taxonomic Information System - Taxonomic information about the species
The PLANTS database - General information and map
Flora of North America - Extensive description and distribution information
Wisconsin State Herbarium - Images
Image from a Sampler of Wayside Herbs - Image and description of historical herbal uses of the plant
Bailey, L. H. 1949. Manual of Cultivated Plants. Macmillan, New York.
Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th edition. American Book Company, New York.
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume #3. Oxford University Press
Gleason, H. A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York.
Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
Holm, L.G., J.V. Pancho, J.P. Herberger and D.L. Plucknett. 1979. A Geographical Atlas of World Weeds. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.
Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
Josselyn, John. 1672. New England Rarities Discovered. Meriden Gravure Company, Meriden, Connecitcut.
Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999. Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.
Newcomb, N. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Little Brown, Boston.
Peterson, R.T. and M. McKenny. 1968. A field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.