Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut

Fig Buttercup

Ficaria verna Huds.
Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)

Origin: Europe

Fig buttercup, also known as lesser celandine, was introduced to the United States as an ornamental plant and many colorful varieties are currently available commercially.

Distribution and Habitat
Fig buttercup is currently found in 20 northeastern states and in Oregon, Washington and several Canadian provinces. It occurs most commonly on moist, forested floodplains and other wet areas.

Ecological Threat
Fig buttercup’s greatest threat is to native spring-flowering or “ephemeral” plants. It emerges in the winter in advance of most native species, giving it a great competitive advantage. Once established, it spreads rapidly, forming a solid green blanket across the ground through which native plants are unable to penetrate.

Description and Biology

Prevention and Control
Care should be taken to correctly identify fig buttercup before undertaking any control efforts to avoid removing native look-alike plants. For small infestations, clumps can be pulled by hand or dug up using a shovel, removing entire plants and as many tubers as possible. Use of systemic herbicides is also an option but should be done as early as possible to avoid impact to native plant species (see Control Options).

Native Alternatives
Wood poppy (Stylophorum canadense) and marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) are two good native alternatives available depending on the conditions of the planting site.


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Last updated:11-Nov-2010