This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
We have already described (page 6 ante) a plant bearing the name of Lesser Celandine, and we would at once warn the reader that the Greater Celandine is not even distantly related to the Lesser. Here is an illustration of the dangers that arise from dependence upon the folk-names of plants and animals. The novice would reasonably assume that the Lesser and the Greater Celandines differed only in point of size, whereas the resemblance that struck our forefathers appears to have consisted merely in both plants being in flower what time the swallow (Chelidon) returns to our shores. Chelidonhim majus is really a kind of poppy, whilst Ranunculus ficaria is a buttercup.
There is only one British species of Chelidonium, a perennial plant, with erect branching stems. The true poppies have a milky juice: this plant, like the Welsh-poppy (Meconopsis), and the Horned-poppy (Glaucium) has a yellow juice. The leaf is much divided, the leaflets deeply lobed, with somewhat of a resemblance to an oak-leaf. The rather small yellow flowers are combined in umbels, borne on a long stalk, to be out of the way of the somewhat erect leaves. There are two sepals and four petals, as in Papaver, but the fruit, instead of being an urn-like capsule as in that genus, is a long pod with two valves, which separate from the base upwards.
It is a plant of the hedgerow and waste ground, where it may be found in flower from May to August. The yellow juice, which is very acrid and poisonous, had formerly a reputation as an eye medicine, and as a caustic for the burning away of warts.
Chelidonium majus. Papayeraceae -