Known as witch's flower in Somerset, greater celandine is a European native from the poppy family. Its dedication to Sun, Elemental Fire, and Imbolc is betrayed not only by its bright yellow flowers but its distinctive sap, which is Sun yellow instead of Moon white, like that of its cousin, the breadseed poppy. The sap is very bitter and acrid, but that is mostly destroying by drying or heating; still, I wouldn't ingest it. Greater celandine is often involved in charms offering protection from the authorities, success in court cases, and generally for escape from bondage. There's a strong connection to the eyes in the name, since the folklore is that swallows would use greater celandine to restore the eyes of their chicks that had been pecked. The seed I'm selling was gathered from the plants in my own garden; these have double flowers instead of the singles in the picture. Wouldn't you know that although I took photos of the pods and of the dormant plant (see below), I forgot to take pictures of the flowers. I'll do that this year. I actually love this plant not for its flowers but for its beautiful leaves. This magic herb has been cultivated by Europeans since at least 1672. It is also known as witches' flower, tetterwort (=skin), killwart, wart flower, wartweed, felonwort (=finger), cockfoot, devil's milk, swallowwort, wretweed, and kenningwort (=sight, although that has the implication of knowledge as well).
How to Grow Greater Celandine
These seeds germinate best after cold stratification. You can plant them outside in a protected area in the fall, or sprinkle them in a paper towel that has been wet with a solution of water and liquid kelp and then wrung out. Fold up the towel and put it inside a thin plastic bag (don't zip closed). Put outside in a protected area like an unheated garage or a porch or shed in the fall. Leave it out there until early spring, when you can begin to check for germination. Carefully transfer the germinated seeds to planting soil. Or just plant outside in fall, barely covering the seeds. This magic herb loves moist, rich soil under trees, where it adds bright little Suns with its flowers. I have mine in spot between two trees where the soil is dry, putting them in a large pot to preserve the moisture; it does fine in there with pretty much no supplemental watering. It can grow in full shade or full sun (where it doesn't get too hot) but seems to like dappled shade best. It likes alkaline soil, so grow next to a concrete or stone wall or add some stones to the top of the soil if in a pot. It gets about 2ft/.5m tall and just as wide. The plant flowers April-September and are pollinated by all sorts of bees and bugs. The pods form from the center of each flower, gradually elongating. The pods split and drop many seeds to the ground. These seeds are also harvested by ants, who carry them away so they can eat the little fasteners on the seeds. This doesn't hurt the seed, and the ants end up planting them elsewhere. This perennial is hardy from zones 4 (-30F/-34C) to 8 (so not too hot, but it can stand some cold). It is an aggressive self-sower in some conditions, so if you feel any worry about that, grow it in a pot. I have had mine in pots for years without any seeds popping up elsewhere, ants or not. I have noticed it prefers to grow in shade here and first found it growing under the very heavy shade of two huge Norway spruce, so if you have that sort of issue in your garden, try them there. General growing info
Chelidonium majus plena
2014, 2017 Harold A. Roth. No reproduction of any part without permission.