Also known as Kingcup – its scientific name, Caltha, derived from the Greek for Chalice – this hardy perennial loves damp meadows and woodlands, marshes, ditches or soaking its roots beside streams. It is found throughout Scotland and is one of the most striking plants of late spring looking like a large dwarf buttercup.
Stems can be upright or low-growing. Glabrous, hollow, and sometimes reddish in colour. The leaves arise mostly at the base of the stem with a few more sparsely populating the higher stems. Leaves are kidney-shaped or triangular with a rounded tip and heart-shaped base. Edges are irregularly toothed, and surfaces shiny, hairless and covered in a network of fine veins. At the bottom of the plant leaves grow on long stalks, but are sessile where they appear further up.
The top of the stem branches widely into 2 or 3 long flower stalks on top of which is a single cup-shaped golden-yellow flower with 5 rounded tepals (no separate sepals or petals). The tepals are sometimes tinged with green on the undersides. A thick crop of yellow stamens with yellow anthers stands upright in the middle, about 50 to 100, and 1 stigma.
The seed head is a cluster of curving brownish green pods.
Marsh Marigold contains a toxin harmful to humans. Old herbalists used it to remove warts.