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?