Fig buttercup (Ficaria verna), or lesser celandine, is a short herbaceous perennial that is a member of the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family). Native to Europe, fig buttercup was introduced as an ornamental and has since been naturalized in 19 states throughout the East, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Eastern Canada. This riparian herb grows vigorously in moist, forested floodplains by creating dense mats that out-compete native vegetation.
Fig buttercup is mainly planted as an ornamental due to its showy flowers and heart-shaped leaves which serve as a ground cover. Flowering occurs in March and April. Flowers are very showy, bright yellow with eight petals. After flowering the plant foliage dies back and by early summer the plants become dormant. Bulblets (above ground tubers) and underground tubers are the primary method of propagation. When the bulblets break off, they can be carried downstream by water to form new colonies. Fig buttercup has been observed in the Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain of North Carolina.
Reedy Creek, Wake County, NC (March, 2020)
Photo Credit: Rob Emens, NC-IPC