Greater celandine

Sign of early human settlement

Greater celandine © the City of Helsinki materialbank, Marianne Saviaho

Greater celandines (Chelidonium majus) grow in a variety of different habitats. Their presence is considered an indicator of early human settlement nearby. Greater celandines used to be cultivated by monks, among other people, for use as medicine to treat a variety of illnesses, from jaundice to eye disorders. The alkaloids contained in greater celandines are highly toxic.

The plant’s Finnish name, keltamo, might be a reference to its yellow flowers, but the name is more likely derived from the orange-yellow latex that runs from broken parts of the plant, which is very smeary. Although greater celandines are nowadays very common in Helsinki, they are absent from many of the islands and extensive forest areas, such as Central Park.