Lesser Celandine, also known as fig buttercup, is a very invasive perennial plant. In April the beautiful 9 petal bright yellow buttercup flowers of this plant cover lawns, hill sides, stream banks, bogs and anyplace ground cover can grow. Uprooting one of the multi-stem plants reveals the cluster of tubers that identify this native European invasive. A website search discovered that this recent, fast growing plant is exploding here in the Northeast, and is out-competing our quickly shrinking diversity of native plants that would also emerge in April if given a chance.
To slow the rapid growth of lesser celandine, start to hand pull the plants as soon as they can be identified and before they set seed or form bulbils. The stems of the heart shaped leaves, which may be solid green or with deep plum blotches, can be easily grabbed at the ground, and gently yet firmly wiggled and slowly pulled to uproot the tubers. If the ground is compact use a hand weeder garden tool, and be sure to dispose of the tubers, since they can quickly regrow.
If the ground is still too compact, water it or wait until it is damp to remove and bag the tubers. It takes a while to do this but definitely worth the effort. Listen to an audiobook or podcasts and the time will fly. Then plant some native herbaceous plants like Dutchman’s Breeches, Virginia Bluebells, Trillium and Trout Lilies, mentioned at Gardens Alive, where they also discuss a new class of alternative broadleaf herbicide that uses Iron as its active ingredient to address lesser celandine. I’ve never tried this but would like to know if it works, or if there’s a downside to applying iron.