Caltha – Marsh Marigold
From The Plant Encyclopedia
|Caltha palustris (type species)|
|Species in this genus|
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- Form: Herbaceous
- Habit: Perennial
- Uses: Ornamental
Caltha is a Genus of 10 Species of rhizomatous perennial plants in the buttercup family, native to wet areas in temperate and cold regions of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Leaves are generally heart- or kidney-shaped.
There are 10 species:
C. palustris is one of the best known species. The specific name palustris, Latin for "of the Marsh", indicates its common habitat. In the UK, it is probably one of the most ancient British native plants, surviving the Glaciations and flourishing after the last retreat of the ice, in a landscape inundated with glacial meltwaters.
C. palustris grows up to 80 cm tall. The leaves are rounded to kidney-shaped, Template:Convert across, with a bluntly serrated margin and a thick, waxy texture. Stems are hollow. The Flowers are yellow, 2–5 cm (1–2 in) diameter, with 4-9 (mostly 5) Petal-like Sepals and many yellow Stamens; they appear in early spring to late summer. The flowers are visited by a great variety of insects for Pollen and for the Nectar secreted from small depressions, one on each side of each Carpel. It flourishes in partial shade. Carpels form into green sac-like follicles to 1 cm long, each opening to release several Seeds. C. palustris is a highly polymorphic species, showing continuous and independent variation in many features.
It is sometimes considered a Weed in clayey moist garden soils, where every piece of its root will survive and spread. In warm free-draining soils, it simply dies away.
Richard Mabey, in Flora Britannica, describes Caltha palustris to be "impervious to wind and snow, and standing in sharp relief against the tousled brown of frostbitten grasses."
In North America Caltha palustris is sometimes known as cowslip. However, cowslip more often refers to Primula veris.<ref>"cowslip". Webster's 1828 Dictionary. http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/cowslip. </ref><ref>"cowslip". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2000. http://www.bartleby.com/61/7/C0710700.html. </ref><ref>"cowslip". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cowslip. </ref> Both are herbaceous plants with yellow flowers, but Primula veris is much smaller.
In Latvia Caltha palustris is also known as "Gundega" which is also used as a girls name which symbolizes fire. The word "Gundega" is made from 2 words - uguns (fire) and dega (burned). This refers to the burning reaction that some people experience from contact with Caltha sap.There are several subspecies, varieties and cultivars of C. palustris.