Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold)
|Also known as:||Cowslips|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; wet; swamps, seeps, wet ditches, springs, along shores, wet woods|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||8 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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2 to 5 flowers on stout naked stalks at the ends of branching stems, usually rising a bit above the leaves. Flowers are bright yellow, 1 to 1½ inches across with 5 to 9 (usually 5) rounded petal-like sepals with distinct veins radiating from the base. In the center is a ring of numerous yellow stamens.
Leaves are mostly basal, mostly round to kidney shaped and deeply heart-shaped at the base, up to 4 inches long, on stalks 2 to 6 inches long. Leaf edges may be toothless but are more often scalloped. The few stem leaves are alternately attached, usually smaller than the basal leaves and less deeply cleft at the base, becoming stalkless as they ascend the stem. Stems are hairless, hollow and much branched. Plants tend to grow in clumps.
Fruit is a curved capsule called a “follicle”, about 3/8 inch long, initially green and erect, spreading out as they mature, drying to light greenish brown and eventually splitting open to release the numerous seeds.
One of my favorite flowers. My mother was born and raised on a small chicken farm in Rolling Forks Township just south of Starbuck in Pope County. One of the earliest plants I was taught to identify, she said she and her sisters, always wanting to provide flowers for their mother on Mother's Day—even while always warned to stay out of the swamps (Valda was a very stern woman!)—this is what they brought home every year. It was all there was and they were always scolded for it!
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and at Pine Bend SNA, Dakota County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?
on: 2009-03-22 17:49:06
Back in the sixties, we used to look for the marsh marigold, we called them cowslips, just after the snow had begun to melt. It was a quest that we went on every spring to see who would spot one first. We lived in Isanti County on rural route 3
on: 2009-03-23 12:01:38
We did the same when I was a kid, except our search was for trilliums. :-)
on: 2009-04-30 19:41:29
We have two growing in our backyard down by the Mississippi river. We spotted them about two weeks ago. One is very large, about two feet across, and the other is about six inches across. We live in Big Lake Township in Sherburne County.
on: 2009-05-04 09:32:01
We were working a trail through the back of our property and my wife noticed them first. There are dozens of these plants flowering - we're spotting them all over (along with dozens of fiddleheads). We didn't know what they were, but I found them on this site! Very Cool! We are in far Northeast Anoka County.
on: 2009-05-07 20:23:28
Saw a nice patch of these in full bloom today. I was in Dodge Nature Center, West St.Paul.
on: 2009-06-14 19:34:11
I saw alot of these blooming this weekend along the Arrowhead Trail in the far NE corner of the state. I'd love to get some of these established along the roadcut through my property up there.
on: 2010-05-17 11:35:58
Lovely bunches are scattered though out the marsh areas near the Boat landing end of Birchmont Dr NE. They are currently in full bloom.
on: 2010-06-19 17:01:17
Scattered throughout the watery areas of the big swamp in the Oakdale Nature Preserve, May 2010.
on: 2010-07-25 13:08:56
We saw these in May on the trail to the High Falls in Grand Portage State Park. I am so pleased and excited to find this site. We live full time in a motorhome. We always check out the wildflowers wherever we are. How great to be to identify what we have seen and photographed!
on: 2010-09-09 17:42:46
I grew up in northern St. Louis County and loved seeing these flowers cover the entire forest floor every spring. The smell as you passed by was heavenly.
on: 2011-02-09 15:26:13
I have several of these lovely plants in my pond.they are so beautiful but only bloom for a short time,however the leaves are quite large and nice in themselves.bloom very early,sometimes even though the ground is still frozen
on: 2011-05-08 21:40:30
Saw two or three bright yellow clumps in the ditch almost floating. Hwy 32 south of Red Lake Falls
on: 2011-05-11 02:17:41
My roommate and I were on a walk, and we found them near some standing water on the UMD campus. Lots of them!
on: 2011-05-19 13:36:42
Found some in my front yard in the ditch: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150259481256337&set=a.10150259480891337.363084.703206336&type=1&theater
on: 2011-05-24 23:32:13
Saw several in bloom near the bog.
on: 2012-04-21 12:27:51
I spotted this plant today at Bredesen Park on the edge of a marsh.
on: 2012-04-24 21:01:17
Saw these blooming in the wetland , just a few today, hope for more in the usually large patch.
on: 2013-06-14 17:27:10
I have many of these on my property here in Hermantown (next to Duluth) and there are other properties in the area with many Marsh Marigolds as well.
on: 2014-05-11 15:25:42
Sunday May 11 (Mothers day) 2014 A number of specimens in bloom in Bredesen Park, Edina, on the edges of the marsh, along the innermost (unpaved) trail. Some practically in the water, others further upslope.
on: 2014-05-11 22:14:22
Only ones I saw blooming were right down by the main waterfall...
on: 2014-05-17 13:43:07
There must be almost two acres of marsh marigolds blooming now at the USFWS Jessenland Unit. They just burned this unit a few weeks back and it has done wonders for the vigor of the marigolds and other plants in the area. The fire exposed tussocks coupled with the profusion of yellow blooms is quite a sight.
on: 2014-07-27 19:18:49
My sisters and I loved to pick this flower and I still do if I get the chance. They grew wonderfully in the swampy part of our cattle pasture(Winsor Township, Clearwater County). I've always wondered what their "real" name was, but to us they will always be "swamp flowers". :)
on: 2015-04-22 12:55:00
We have a marsh of 3 acres and it is covered with Marsh Marigolds. They have not started to really bloom yet as of April 22nd. Love the bright color when they really POP.
on: 2015-05-13 13:28:43
These beautiful yellow flowers are brightening the willow swamps off many gravel roads out here.
on: 2015-12-18 19:58:44
This fall I found a Marsh Marigold plant blooming on November 9th! See post here: http://palmerlakepark.blogspot.com/2015/11/magical-marigold.html
on: 2016-08-21 16:35:56
Marsh Marigolds - mine have their feet in water now, and the leaves have disappeared. But in the more dry beds I've been pulling pointed-heart-shaped leaf short plants with a nub at the base of the leaf stalk (below surface). I've not seen the marigolds to begin this far away. So now being so scattered, could they be violets - which I really do Not Want. Heart shape, but more pointed with very serrated edges - not scalloped, but pointy notches. I think they will remain as individual plants about 5"tall and wide. The little white bulb at the base of the leaf clump is distinctive. Help. White Bear Lake, MN
on: 2016-08-21 18:10:39
Pat, if you'd like help with an ID post a picture on our facebook page
on: 2018-05-20 11:24:26
We saw the marsh marigold in Lindbergh state park.
on: 2018-05-29 15:19:03
lot of them blooming in the wetlands areas! on 5-26-18
on: 2019-05-22 12:13:11
We have them in our back area - along Cedar Creek and the marsh surrounding it. They are blooming now, a little late this year as it has been chillier and wetter than usual. They typically bloom around mother's day, and it was a tradition to find the first one and present it to my mother. That was also her tradition, when she was a small girl.
on: 2020-04-15 21:59:46
Started seeing this plant blooming around the second week of April on the Bruce Vento Nature Trail. Even with the snow several patches are thriving today.
on: 2020-04-25 21:30:38
Bruce Vento Nature Trail. There is quite a lot of these blooming since the first week of April
on: 2020-04-25 21:31:35
Bruce Vento Nature Trail. There is quite a lot of these blooming since the first week of April.
on: 2020-05-03 11:50:34
This morning there were quite a number in bloom along the East side of the Douglas State Trail just south of mile #6 (about 2 miles NW of Douglas MN).
on: 2020-05-06 10:48:58
Large displays in Crosby Farms Park. Blooming 1st week of May 2020.
on: 2020-05-17 14:17:26
Next to elevated trail though wetland. I thought they looked like begonias
on: 2020-05-23 18:40:22
Next to elevated trail though wetland. I thought they looked like begonias
on: 2020-05-27 16:38:45
Is there a way to preserve marsh marigolds? I have hooked them and they are delicious! Would love to be able to have them even after the season has gone.
on: 2021-03-30 12:25:00
There's one plant at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary that always flowers very early - this year - 2021 - on March 26. But in general, this population of marsh marigolds flowers earlier than other marsh marigolds much less any other spring wildflowers. Perhaps because the stream they grow by in the sanctuary originates deep inside a cave the bluff and so it flows all year round & so might be just that little bit warmer?
on: 2021-05-06 10:57:59
Lots are blooming in the marsh around little Lake Hilary.
on: 2021-05-09 20:10:07
There are lots blooming on the boardwalk trail over the wetlands/marsh.
on: 2022-05-21 21:20:47
Growing in tiny marshy stream.
on: 2023-05-13 23:10:53
There are dozens of plants around the culverts under the railroad tracks between Two Harbors and Knife River, about 1/4 mile from the shore. Blossoms just opened, either today or yesterday (May 12 or 13).