Mountain Marsh Marigold
Caltha leptosepala DC.
Family: Ranunculaceae, Buttercup
Genus: Caltha
Other names: white marshmarigold
Nomenclature: leptosepala = thin petaled
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant

General: erect, fleshy, perennial herb, stems hairless, usually leafless, 5-10 cm tall, sometimes to 40 cm, from short, erect rhizomes.

Leaves: basal, cordate, up to about 6 cm long, slightly longer than wide, rounded at tip, thick and waxy, almost entire to coarsely toothed with wavy edges. Stalks from shorter than the leaf blades to 2-3 times their length.

Flowers: white, sometimes tinged bluish, saucer-shaped, 2-4 cm wide, with 5-15 showy, oblong to oval sepals and no petals. Flowers usually solitary on stalks 3-10 cm, rarely up to 20 cm tall, usually with a single leaf. May-August.

Fruits: erect clusters of numerous pods (follicles), about 15 mm long.


Wet subalpine and alpine places, in w. and sc. parts of MT. Also from AK to CO, UT, AZ, and w. to n.e. NV.
Edible Uses

The root of marsh marigold is edible, but it must be well cooked. Some caution is advised since the whole plant, but especially the older portions, contains the toxic glycoside protoanemanin. This is destroyed by heat however. The sap can also irritate sensitive skin. The flower buds can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled and used as a caper substitute. Young leaves, before the flowers emerge, are edible raw or cooked. Older leaves, before the plant flowers, can be eaten if well cooked.

Medicinal Uses

The whole plant is antispasmodic and has agents that induces the removal (coughing up) of mucous secretions from the lungs. It has been used to remove warts. A poultice of the chewed roots has been applied to inflamed wounds.

Sub taxa:

ssp. leptosepala var. leptosepala DC.:
Sepals white or variously greenish or somewhat bluish-tinged.

ssp. leptosepala var. sulfurea C.L. Hitchc.:
Sepals canary-yellow.

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