Flowers: growing in clusters on long petioles. Calyx: usually of five, but sometimes as many as nine, showy, petal-like sepals. Corolla: none. Stamens: numerous. Pistils: five to fourteen. Leaves: reniform; rounded; the upper ones nearly sessile; the lower ones on long petioles. Stem: erect; branching at the top; hollowed; furrowed. Rootstock: thick.
Unlike the majority of early wild flowers that prefer the shelter of the woods to test the season's temper, the marsh marigold boldly opens the spring in the marshes. It is well equipped for its mission, being clothed in the brightest of yellow, which is shown to advantage by its background of dark green leaves. The plant does not harrow itself with any intense feelings of patriotism. It is equally fond of the old and new worlds, and has a rare adaptability for accommodating itself to circumstances. It is Shakespeare's Mary-bud. In this country it is sometimes improperly called cowslip, which name belongs to a European species of primrose.
The leaves and young shoots are excellent when served as greens, and find especial favour among the country people in England.