I stopped in to see some friends yesterday – they used to live up the road from us, but last fall, moved to a new property a few kilometres away. The property is beautiful – a mix of field and forest with a small stream trickling by, meandering its way through the back and side of the property before emptying into Lake Ontario.
The stream is small most of the year; in spring, it can become a raging torrent as snow melts away, spilling over its banks and becoming suddenly visible and very close to the kitchen window! It’s when the spring water levels subside that the magic appears, almost overnight:
Marsh Marigolds, Caltha palustris, appear in clumps for hundreds of metres, in the stream and along its banks. I’ve seen them before, from afar mainly, but they won’t grow on my property even though it’s very marshy right now; just gets too dry in summer. It’s a native perennial that can be found in wet areas throughout much of temperate North America, including parts of Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut territories.
Its biological name comes from the ancient Greek word ‘kalathos’ – goblet – referring to the shape of the flower (much like a large buttercup; it is, indeed, part of the buttercup plant family) and the Latin word ‘palustris’ – of the marsh. Apparently the flower, leaves and roots are edible BUT BEWARE – uncooked, this plant can be toxic due to the presence of the glycoside protoanemonin.