Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Native Species Profile - Marsh Marigold

Anyone who tramps through wet woodlands, marshes and swamps in the northeastern United States and across Canada has probably come across the Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).  The Marsh Marigold is native to thirty-one states and all thirteen Canadian provinces and territories.  The plant is also native to Great Britain, Europe, and Asia.

Marsh Marigold is an herbaceous plant with yellow flowers and glossy green heart- or kidney-shaped leaves.  It forms low mounds from 8 inches to 24 inches high.  In its preferred habitats, Marsh Marigold can form an extensive groundcover.  It is an obligate wetland species, meaning that it only rarely occurs in upland sites (less than 1% of the time).  It is commonly found in hardwood and coniferous swamps, wet woodlands, marshes, and along streams.  It is frequently found growing with Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) and Swamp Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus). 

A mound of Marsh Marigold - note the heart-shaped leaves.

Marsh Marigolds in a Northern Hardwood - Conifer Swamp
The Marsh Marigold has yellow flowers with five petals.  The flowers resemble those of a buttercup more than those of a marigold.  In Mid-Michigan, Marsh Marigold usually blooms between mid-April and June.  The flower and leaf buds usually begin to emerge from the ground at around the same time.

Note the five petaled flowers

Close-up of the flower

Young leaves growing near seep in a Cedar Swamp (Mid-April 2008)

Basic Information

Marsh Marigold 
Caltha palustris

Height:  1-2’ tall

Habitat:  wetlands, swamps, wet woods, wet meadows, along streams

Flower Color:  yellow 

Bloom Time:  April – mid June

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