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Tiny rays of sunshine

Lesser celandines and primroses are among the first of spring’s flowers.

Their petals bring colourful warmth to woodland floors and smiles to those that see them.


These pale to deep yellow flowers have darker orange centres. Their wrinkly leaves with hairy undersides form a rosette at the plant’s base. Flowering from March to May, they provide a nectar source for brimstone and small tortoiseshell butterflies.

In some regions of Britain they can be used, along with other plants, as ancient woodland indicators. However, there are several cultivated varieties, some of which have escaped from gardens and are now found in the wild. Ancient woodland is rapidly diminishing and under threat from development. Please join our campaign to call for better protection for ancient woodland and the wonderful wildlife it supports.

Lesser celandine

These beautifully yellow star-like flowers bloom from late February into May. The glossy green heart-shaped leaves add to their charm. As one of the first flowers to appear after winter, they provide an important nectar source for queen bumblebees emerging from hibernation and other early insects.

They are related to the buttercup family and not to the greater celandine that shares its name. You can use them as indicators of rain as they close their petals just before the droplets start to fall.

William Wordsworth wrote poems dedicated to his favourite flower – the lesser celandine:

To the small celandine
Pansies, Lilies, Kingcups, Daisies,
Let them live upon their praises;
Long as there's a sun that sets
Primroses will have their glory;
Long as there are Violets,
They will have a place in story:
There's a flower that shall be mine,
'Tis the little Celandine.

Lesser celandines are one of the flowers recorded by Nature’s Calendar. By recording seasonal events, such as flowering, over time we can build a picture of any changes taking place – such as springtime events occurring earlier in the year.

If you would like to join in this important work please look at the Nature’s Calendar website for details