Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb celandine are Garden Celandine and Common Celandine.
Celandine is a pale green, fleshy herb, indigenous to Europe and naturalized in the United States; it grows along fences, by roads, in waste places, etc., and flowers from May to October. Celandine was a drug plant in the Middle Ages and is mentioned by Pliny, to whom we owe the tradition that it is called Chelidonium from the Greek chelidon (a swallow), because it comes into flower when the swallows arrive and fades at their departure.
The English name Celandine is merely a corruption of the Greek word. Celandine is from the Greek word Chelidon, which signifies a swallow. The ancients assert that if you put out the eyes of young swallows when they are in the nest, the old ones will restore their eyes again with this herb. It is said that we may mar the apple of the bird's eye with a needle, and that the old birds will restore their sight again by means of this herb.
The Celandine is an herbaceous perennial. The root is thick and fleshy. The stem, which is slender, round and slightly hairy, grows from 1 1/2 to 3 feet high and is much branched; at the points where the branches are given off, it is swollen and jointed and breaks very easily. The plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves during the first year. The alternate compound leaves are up to 6" long and 3" across; they are pinnate-pinnatifid or bipinnatifid and hairless to mostly hairless. Each compound leaf typically has 5 leaflets or lobes that are ovate or obovate in overall shape.
These leaflets or lobes are pinnatifid with secondary lobes; they are green and hairless above, and pale green and hairless below with conspicuous veins. Their margins may be coarsely crenate or dentate as well. The secondary lobes have blunt tips. The rachis (if present) and petiole of each compound leaf may have a few scattered hairs. The flowers drop very quickly when picked. They are arranged at the ends of the stems in loose umbels. They blossom throughout the summer, being succeeded by narrow, long pods, containing blackish seeds. Fruit is a linear, slender pod, about an inch in length, somewhat swelled at intervals, the two valves opening upward from the base to the apex ; seeds rounded, reniform, with a glandular ridge at the hilum, and a crustaceous, blackish-brown testa, marked with more or less regular, hexagonal reticulations.
The whole plant abounds in a bright, orange-coloured juice, which is emitted freely wherever the stems or leaves are broken. This juice stains the hands strongly and has a persistent and nauseous taste and a strong, disagreeable smell. It is acrid and a powerful irritant.
Greater Celandine has naturalized in a few scattered counties in Illinois, where it is uncommon and usually doesn't persist. This species was introduced from Europe as an herbal plant and it is still cultivated in gardens.
Celandine is usually found by old walls, hedges and waysides and in untilled places. Once planted in a garden, especially in a shady place, it will remain there. It is always common in the neighbourhood of human habitations.
Sow seed in situ in spring for best results. For maximum freshness, please keep seed refrigerated in its original packaging until it is time to plant. Propagation: Celandine can be propagated by seeds or by division. Seed into plug trays or directly into the field. The seed will germinate in 2 - 3 weeks. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade. Regular watering is necessary. It can tolerate most soil types but grows best in rich soil. Above ground parts are harvested in the spring or early summer.
The whole herb of the celandine is used for its medicinal and commercial purposes.
The flowers of the celandine are generally in bloom through out the summer.
Pests and Diseases
Celandine are commonly affected by sap sucking insects, mites and gall maker insects. They are infected by diseases like root and butt diseases, foliage diseases, stem, cone and broom rusts.
Medicinal and Commercial Applications
• Celandine helps in treating the yellow jaundice, the dropsy and the itch and old sores in the legs and other parts.
• The herb is used by professional herbalists as a cholagogue and hepatic tonic and purifies the blood, increases urine production.
• The fresh juice is still considered to be an effective application for corns and warts.
• It is used as an eye lotion to remove film on the eyes.
• Chewing the root relieves toothache.
• It is used in jaundice, eczema, scrofulous diseases and scurvy.
• The addition of a few aniseeds in making a decoction of the herb in wine has been held to increase its efficacy in removing obstructions of the liver and gall.
• An ointment made of the roots and lard boiled together, also of the leaves and flowers, has been used with advantage for piles.
• Celandine is a very popular medicine in Russia, where it is said to have proved effective in cases of cancer.
• Celandine is also used in curing salt-rheum, tetter, or ringworm.