Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is a perennial plant that belongs to the genus Ranunculus (Ranunculaceae family). Before the species was listed under the name Ficaria verna and referred to another genus.
In early spring time, already at the beginning of March, golden-yellow flowers emerge from the cold ground. The flowers resemble single stars with numerous stamens. They open with the sunrise and close at dusk or in cloudy and rainy weather during the day. Every spring by using the accumulated form of starch and other reserve substances, the plant grows new stems from the adventitious roots. Lesser celandine's leaves are fleshy, dark green and very shiny on top. In form they are triangular or heart-kidney (resemble small hoofs).
Despite its alluring green you wont see any herbivorous animals to stop and feed on this plant. They pass it with indifference, because the stems and leaves of Lesser celandine, especially during flowering, are highly poisonous. The only not poisonous part is the modified tuberous roots (sometimes small tubers grow in the bosom of its stem-leaves). They are not only rich in starch, but also vitamin C and can be used for food by humans.
Lesser celandine can not be counted among the honey-giving plants, although its flowers are rich in nectar and pollen but they bloom very early (March-May), when the bees still sleep.
Lesser celandine is extremely widespread in all parts of the country (Bulgaria), from the lowlands up to about 1600 m asl in the mountains. It occurs in exposed places in deciduous forests and thickets, across river valleys, wet meadows and lawns.
The species is widespread in Europe, Southwest Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia.