Chelidonium majus L.—Celandine
FAMILY: Papaveraceae—the Poppy Family
FLOWERS: perfect, showy, bisexual and regular; petals: 4-8 or 8-12, separate, conspicuous, and deciduous; sepals: 2-3, falling early; stamens: very numerous; ovary: superior, 1-celled; fruit: a capsule, usually opening by valves or pores; leaves: exstipulate, alternate on the stems. When the integrity of the stem or leaves is disturbed, the wound produces a white, or colored milky sap.
PHENOLOGY: Celandine flowers in April through September.
DISTRIBUTION: Found in moist soil, gardens, rich woods, and roadsides where vegetation is dense.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Chelidonium majus is a biennial or short lived perennial weed naturalized from Europe. Sepals: 2, falling early; petals: 4, yellow; stamens: numerous, with long, slender filaments and short, round anthers; ovary: glabrous, with a very short style with 2-lobed stigma; flowers: small, several in a peduncled umbel; leaves: deeply lobed almost or quite to the midvein.
POISONOUS PARTS: The plant's sap, found in stems, roots, and leaves, is poisonous.
SYMPTOMS: If ingested, celandine produces severe gastroenteritis. Also, there is possibly some risk of skin irritation on contact.
POISONOUS PRNCIPLE: The toxins are alkaloid compounds, i.e., chelidonine, chelerythrine, protopine, sanguinarine, berberine, tetrahydrocoptisine, and others.
CONFUSED TAXA: This is the only naturalized weed having flowers with 4 brilliant yellow-orange petals and milky sap when bruised.
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Apparently all species of livestock and humans develop gastroenteritis upon ingestion of celandine.
TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)