The whole herb is collected in the wild state, while in flower in March and April, and dried. The tubers are collected in in May and June.
The White Goddess Paganism 101 An Introduction

Lesser Celandine - Herborium - The White Goddess

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Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

(Cytisus scoparius)


The leaves are on long stalks, arising from a short, prostrate stem, and are very variable, the first being heart-shaped, the later ones bluntly cut into, somewhat like the ivy. They often have dark markings. Bright yellow solitary flowers on long peduncles appear in spring, and have three sepals and 8-12 lanceolate petals, each with a nectary at the base.

The blossoms shut up before rain, and even in fine weather do not open before nine o'clock, and by 5 p.m. have already closed for the night. The Celtic name of the plant, Grian (i.e. the sun), refers to this habit. The petals are green on the underside, and directly the flowers close they become inconspicuous. The fleshy roots, up to 3cm long, are oblong or club-shaped.

Size:  15-20cm

Distribution:  Throughout the UK

Flowering months:  February to April

Habitat:  Hillsides, moist fields, shady areas under trees, damp hedgerows, open woodland, bare ground meadows, ditches and banks, sometime forming dense clumps or patches.

Folk Names:  Small Celandine, Figwort, Smallwort, Pilewort, brighteye, butter and cheese.

Effects: Natural power, war, rage, destruction, force, action

Planet:  Sun

Element: Fire

Associated Deities:  Bast, Eostre, Kwan Yin, Sunna, Artemis, Belinos, Diana, Hecate


According to the Doctrine of Signatures, the tubers of this plant resembled piles. In the Western Isles of Scotland they were believed to resemble a cow’s udder, and they were hung in cow byres to ensure high milk yields. Wordsworth was so fond of the flowers that he had them carved on his tomb and fancifully suggests that the painter who first tried to picture the rising sun, must have taken the idea of the spreading pointed rays from the Celandine's 'glittering countenance.'

"There is a flower, the lesser celandine,
That shrinks like many more from cold and rain,
And the first moment that the sun may shine,
Bright as the sun himself, 'tis out again!"

Extract from The Small Celandine by William Wordsworth (Publishd 1888)

Magic: Psychic ability, associated with Scorpio

Medical Indications: 

The whole herb is collected in the wild state, while in flower in March and April, and dried. The tubers are collected in in May and June. Constituents: Saponins (based on hederagenin and oleanolic acid), anemonin and protoanemonin, tannin. Astringent This herb is an old remedy for piles, for which it has recently been re-introduced into the British Pharmacopoeia, and is considered almost a specific. Internally, the infusion of 1 OZ. in a pint of boiling water is taken in wineglassful doses, and will in most cases be sufficient to effect a cure.

It has a traditional use in the treatment of piles, both as an internal remedy and in the form of an ointment or suppository. Nowadays, it is used only externally because of its acrid nature. The saponins are locally anti-haemorrhoidal, an action enhanced by the astringent tannins. The saponins have a fungicidal action.

It is also used externally as an ointment, made from the bruised herb with fresh lard, applied locally night and morning, or in the form of poultices, fomentations, or in suppositories. A most excellent ointment has been recommended for external abscesses, etc., made from Pilewort, Elder-buds, House-leek, and leaves of the Broad Plantain, prepared in the early spring, when the Pilewort is in flower. The roots are highly valued as a medicine in Cochin-China.

(Photograph taken 28/04/2003 ©2003-2008 Ryewolf)

Please be aware that this information is provided solely for informational purposes only. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to using any herbs or treatments made from herbs.

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