Tree Killers: Celandine

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  • Common English name: Celandine
  • Other names: greater celandine, Chelidonium, tetterwort, nipplewort
  • Latin (scientific) name: Chelidonium majus

Threat type

150x150 plants

History in Canada

  • native of Europe that was introduced to North America in the late 1600’s as an herbal remedy for skin problems and many other ailments
  • occurs in southwest British Columbia, and from Ontario to Nova Scotia
  • available from nurseries as an ornamental


  • biennial flowering plant that belongs to the Poppy family
  • prefers moist soil
  • produces a rosette of deeply-lobed leaves the first year
  • in the second year, a branching stem develops up to 80 cm tall (30 in) with alternate, compound leaves and bright yellow flowers in the spring
  • when broken or crushed, the leaves, stem, or root produce a red- to yellow-coloured juice that can stain clothing, cause eye irritation, or produce a skin rash in some people
  • after flowering, long narrow seedpods develop that contain many small black seeds
  • the seeds are attractive to ants who aid in their dispersal
  • the plant dies after the seeds mature

Impact on Trees

  • may grow in dense stands that suppress native tree seedlings due to shade

What can be done to control this tree killer?

  • herbicide applied late fall or early spring on green rosettes
  • hand pulling and removing plants with seeds
  • several years of control measures are usually needed since the seeds are unaffected by the above methods

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