Herbaceous groundcover with kidney to heart-shaped leaves and showy, daisy-like yellow flowers. Rapidly reproduces vegetatively by abundant tubers and above-ground bulblets.
Other names for this plant include:
Leaves & stems: Leaves are dark-green, shiny, and kidney to heart-shaped on short stalks. Leaves emerge from a basal rosette in early spring before canopy trees leaf out.
Flowers: Flowers are bright butter-yellow, glossy, and usually have 8 petals (although sometimes up to 12), arranged around central disk. Numerous 1" flowers are borne singly on stalks. Flowers open in early spring, March to April.
Fruits & seeds: This species does produce viable seed, up to 70 seeds per plant. After flowering, aerial vegetation dies back and entire plants can be dead by June.
Roots: Above-ground whitish bulblets are produced on the stem axils, usually forming after flowering. Below-ground rhizomes are thick, finger-like tubers. These storage organs keep the plant alive through summer-fall when above-ground portions of the plant have senesced.
Similar species: Lesser celandine resembles marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) a native wetland plant found throughout eastern United States. Marsh marigold contains 5-9 yellow "petals" (actually sepals), while lesser celandine often contain 8 petals. Marsh marigold also does not produce tubers or bulbets.
Lesser celandine varieties include 'Pencarn' and 'Buttered Popcorn'. Notable traits of these varieties are leaves variegated with silver markings and double flower heads. These varieties are considered equally as invasive.
This species is unrelated to greater celandine (Cheidonium majus).