Western Isles Wildflowers
Western Isles wildflowers is a collection of information about our Hebridean wildflowers including identification hints, traditional herbal uses and general plant lore.
Gaelic name: Lus Buidhe Bealltainn
Marsh Marigold is also called Verrucaria, Solsequia, Sponsa solis, leopard's foot, crow-foot of the moor, meadow routs, kingcups, water blobs, horse blobs, bull's eyes and Mollyblobs.
The first part of the latin name comes from the Greek calathos which means a cup, describing the shape of the flowers, the second part palus means a marsh.
This wildflower grows between 1 and 2 feet tall and looks a bit like an enormous buttercup, it actually is a member of the Ranunculae - the buttercup family .
Ranunculus is Latin for "little frog", the members of this plant family like wet habitats and are well represented here in the Western Isles!
This particular species is most likely to be found on land that is under water for at least part of the year, a ditch by the side of a stream or in a marshy area.
The flowers of marsh marigold are larger than those of buttercups, they are about 1.5 inches across, they are also a more golden yellow than those of buttercups, a difference of colour strong enough to identify a ditch lined by marsh marigolds in a field of meadow buttercups from a distance.
Most of the large, kidney-shaped and slightly glossy leaves come from the base of the plant.
Marsh marigold flowers from mid-march to mid-june.
In Ireland marsh marigold petals were used with alum as a mordant, to produce a yellow dye, it is said to not be very permanent.
Marsh marigold is used with other wetland species in reedbeds to treat waste water. Mixing plant species increases biomass and by providing different niches for bacteria broadens the range of conditions over which the reedbed is effective in purification of water.
The name marigold goes back to the use of the plant in the Middle Ages. Marsh marigold was one of the flowers dedicated to the Virgin Mary, so the plant was used in church festivals.
In times more previous, marsh marigold was used for May Day festivals, in garlands and strewn before cottage doors.
This wildflower has been called Verrucaria because of it's success in curing warts.
In the 1695 book "A description of the Western Isles of Scotland" it is written:
"Crow-foot of the moor is often more effectual for raising a blister, and curing the sciatica, than flamula-Jovis: for that sometimes fails of breaking, or raising the skin, but crow-foot seldom fails."
Every part of the plant has a strong irritant effect - poisonous and acid, and there are records of serious effects from use of it!
Leave have been boiled and used like spinach.
The buds used like capers, soaked in vinegar first to reduce the acid.
An infusion has been used to treat fits.
Well diluted tincture in very small amounts has been used to treat anaemia.
Marsh marigold has been known as Solsequia and because the flower opens at sunrise
Sponsa solis because it closes at sunset.
Close-up Photography © Kim Park
Uig - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
21st May, 2006
Right photograph Callanish - Lewis 10th June, 2006
Marsh marigolds are in full flower at this date
Visit Kim's web site of her photography of the Western Isles