Featured Invasive Plant - Lesser Celandine
The Weed Program's currently featured invasive plant is Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna).
Lesser celandine, also called fig buttercup, is a native of Europe and North Africa. It was initially introduced as a garden ornamental, but it has escaped cultivation and has created environmental problems across North America. It is now present in 22 states and 4 Canadian provinces and often recognized as invasive or noxious. Lesser celandine invades moist woodlands, fields, and creek banks, outcompeting native plants. It also has invaded several lawns and gardens in the Bellingham area. It grows densely very early in the spring, preventing other plants from sprouting. Although the foliage dies back by June, a dense network of underground roots and tubers remain, continuing to inhibit the growth of other plants. Lesser celandine reproduces by seed, bulblets and underground tubers. These bulblets and tubers can easily be spread when soil is disturbed or moved, so any control using digging by hand must be done very carefully and plants or soil must never go into the backyard compost. On creek banks plants are spread whenever floodwaters rise.When celandine is present in lawn areas, it may be spread by mowing equipment.
Lesser celandine is related to buttercups. The plant has shiny, dark green leaves that are heart-shaped and up to 1.5 inches long. The plants are low growing, less than 1 foot high, and sprout very early in the spring. Where they are well established, the plants form a green “carpet”. Bright yellow flowers, about an inch in diameter, usually with 8 petals, are produced in March or April. The plants produce light colored bulblets along the aboveground portions of the stem (pictured above). The root system is composed of small fibrous tubers. By June, the above ground portions of the plant dies back, leaving bare ground.
Many varieties of lesser celandine are still sold as garden ornamentals, with flower color ranging from white to orange, and foliage ranging from green to bronze. While these plants may offer an enticing first burst of spring color, please do not bring them home with you. They are likely to go beyond any boundaries on your property and become invasive.
Please be on the lookout for this plant, as it will be in bloom starting in early March. If you find it growing on your property or elsewhere, please contact the Weed Board at 360-715-7470.
Weed Management Recommendations for:
More Weed Management Recommendations for additional species can be found on our Weed Fact Sheets page.
and Community Activities
Other weed program activities include educational presentations
and displays, creating educational materials, site consultations
for other weeds and poisonous plants, and community weed pull
projects. Throughout the county, we work with all landowners,
from federal and state agencies to local municipalities and
private individuals, to prevent the spread of noxious weeds.
For the Kids!
Our mascot Lucy Loosestrife has visited various community events both locally and around Washington State. Click here and here for Lucy's Coloring Pages and learn why such a pretty plant can also be such an invasive weed!
Puzzled by invasive plants? Click here for a Weedy Word Search puzzle.
Public Service Announcements
We provide education through Public Service Announcements ("PSA's"). You will be able to view these from links on our PSA site.
Weed Wrench Loan Program
Got Scotch Broom? The Noxious Weed Board has a loan program for a specialized tool called a Weed Wrench™. Landowners in Whatcom County may borrow this tool for a week at a time at no cost. It's especially useful in removing scotch broom plants, but can also be used on other woody plants such as Himalayan blackberry and spurge laurel. If you would like to try out a Weed Wrench, please call the Weed Board office at 715-7470 to reserve one for pick up.
Poisonous Plants of Whatcom County
Are you wondering about some of the plants lurking out in your pastures? Some of them could be toxic to your animals. Some are toxic to people too. "Livestock-Poisoning Plants of Whatcom County Pastures" in its third printing is available for free from the Noxious Weed Program. This booklet identifies 13 commonly found toxic plants in Whatcom County, their toxicity levels, which parts are poisonous and which animals are susceptible. There is also a list of landscape plants you should avoid planting near your pastures.
Click on the above title or the image on the right to view this new publication, or call the office at 715-7470 if you would like to receive a free hard copy.
If you would like some suggested alternative plants to those botanical bullies,a booklet titled “Garden Wise: Non-Invasive Plants for Your Garden” is available for free at the Weed Board office: 360-715-7470. A July 2008 revised edition is now available. You can also view the booklet online here: