Stem. - Brittle, with saffron-colored, acrid juice. Leaves. - Compound or divided, toothed or cut. Flowers. - Yellow, clustered. Calyx. - Of two sepals falling early. Corolla. - Of four petals. Stamens. - Sixteen to twenty-four. Pistil. - One, with a two-lobed stigma. Pod. - Slender, linear.
The name of celandine must always suggest the poet who never seemed to weary of writing in its honor :
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.
And when certain yellow flowers which frequent the village roadside are pointed out to us as those of the celandine, we feel a sense of disappointment that the favorite theme of Wordsworth should arouse within us so little enthusiasm. So perhaps we are rather relieved than otherwise to realize that the botanical name of this plant signifies greater celandine; for we remember that the poet never failed to specify the small celandine as the object of his praise. The small celandine is Ranunculus ficaria, one of the Crowfoot family, and is only found in this country as an escape from gardens.
Gray tells us that the generic name, Chelidonium, from the ancient Greek for swallow, was given "because its flowers appear with the swallows;" but if we turn to Gerarde we read that the title was not bestowed " because it first springeth at the coming in of the swallowes, or dieth when they go away, for as we have saide, it may be founde all the yeare; but because some holde opinion, that with this herbe the dams restore sight to their young ones, when their eies be put out."