Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris): The First to Welcome Spring

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold, or Cowslip (Caltha palustris) is a striking, early-blooming wildflower in our swamps and marshes. It is a welcome sign of spring.

Other name: Cowslip

Plant Family: Buttercup, Ranunculaceae

Wetland Indicator Status: OBL

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) is not a true marigold, but a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae.  It is one of the first noticeable and showy of the wetland wildflowers.  Their large bright golden-yellow flowers are often easily visible along permanently wet roadside ditches when nearly all the vegetation is still brown and gray.  It is worth getting out of the car and taking a closer look. The heart-shaped leaves are very acrid in flavor; nevertheless, hardy wild plant eaters will boil them in several changes of water, after which it is said to taste better than spinach.  I’ll take their word for it.