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Marsh marigold (caltha palustris) is a member of the buttercup family. It is also known as king cup, caltha biflora (in Europe), and potamogeton cymbalaria (in Latin America).


The Marsh marigold is a low growing large buttercup-like flower with heart-shaped scalloped leaves and bright orange or yellow flowers that bloom from March through June. It grows between 10 and 25 centimetres (4-10 inches) tall with a single 1 to 3 cm (0.4-1.2 inch) flower.

The leaves grow in whorls around the stem forming a rosette; 1 to 3 lower leaves are usually spotted or toothed along the edges, while the other leaves are often larger, lack teeth, and are deeply lobed.

Blossoming marsh marigold in the spring

Where And When To See Them

As its name suggests, the marsh marigold is found in vernal pools, marshes, lakes, and wet woodland, damp meadows in areas at elevations below 5500 ft. The plant will grow in drier areas in moist soil, but it will do best when planted near streams or ponds where it can receive plenty of sunlight.

The conspicuous spring flower accumulates water in its thick leaves during dry spells. This helps to keep it alive when there is limited rainfall or when there are spells of drought conditions.

One of the first flowers to bloom in spring, marsh marigolds are a welcome early source of pollen and nectar for many insects, such as hoverflies and honeybees.

Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris yellow flowers

Is Marsh Marigold Native To UK?

Marsh marigolds are native to Asia, North America, and Central America and is not native to the United Kingdom.

Where Should I Plant Marsh Marigold?

The marsh marigold is a hardy wildflower that should be planted in a sunny area with fast-draining soil. The flowers will grow about 1.5 feet tall and can grow up to 2 to 2.5 feet wide. Marsh marigold plants do not spread by seeds or underground runners, so it’s okay to plant them close together as long as you’re not trying to keep them contained within a certain area.

Marsh marigolds thrive in wet places and are very tolerant of heat and cold, making them a great addition to the summer garden or early spring beds.

Spring flowering marsh yellow flowers marsh marigold

How Should I Care For My Marsh Marigold?

The easiest way to get your seeds started is to get them started indoors. To do this:

  1. Place your seeds flat on top of moist soil that has been mixed with sand or perlite.
  2. Cover the seeds lightly with more sand or perlite, and then cover that with plastic wrap.
  3. Place the plastic wrap directly on the soil and set your seed trays out in a sunny area with good ventilation.
  4. Once the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic wrap and continue to grow your marsh marigold indoors.

Is Marsh Marigold Poisonous?

While marsh marigold is not considered harmful to humans when cooked, it did make the 2012 list of Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms in Canada due to its “minor irritant and corrosive properties.” Some people may experience irritation, rash or burning sensation in their mouth if they ingest it raw.

The active ingredient of marsh marigolds are mucilage, choline, stachydrine, flavonoids, vitamin C and oxalic acid. It also contains calcium oxylate crystals that can irritate your mouth if you chew or swallow these flowers.

Beautiful yellow Marsh Marigold flowers grown in the garden

Should I Eat The Marsh Marigold Flowers?

Marsh marigold should never be eaten because it can be harmful to pets or horses unfamiliar with its taste or smell. Some people have made tea from pickled or cooked flowers that have found out about the medicinal properties of this species.

Marsh Marigold Uses

The marsh marigold has been used for hundreds of years to treat skin inflammation, general aches and pains, and gastrointestinal issues. The plant was used medicinally by Native Americans for its anti-inflammatory properties. Early American settlers also boiled the roots to make a syrup to relieve sore throats.

Marsh marigold flowers are very valuable in treating mucous membrane inflammation in the mouth and throat, which causes problems like gonorrhoea (sometimes during pregnancy) and infections of the intestinal membranes (enteritis). The root extract is used in Europe as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Native Americans also used marsh marigolds for inflammatory problems like arthritis, bursitis, gout or rheumatism. It is still used for diarrhoea and internal bleeding. In fact, in Native American cultures, marsh marigold is thought to have a magical effect on internal bleeding. They consider marsh marigolds as sacred plants and use the root to apply it directly to boils or wounds. The root was even used as a blue dye for cloth and jewellery.

Sources and References

  1. Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) – Identification and Use –
  2. Caltha Palustris The Marsh Marigold Or Kingcup –

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