Caltha palustris

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaRanunculaceaeCalthaCaltha palustris


A perennial herb of various wet habitats, usually neutral to base-rich rather than very acidic, including Alnus carr, the edges of rivers, streams, canals, lakes and ponds, ditches and winter-wet meadows and pastures. A small form, var. radicans, is found in mountain flushes and lake shores in N. & W. Britain and Ireland. 0-1100 m (Braeriach and Lochnagar, S. Aberdeen).



World Distribution

Circumpolar Wide-boreal element.

© S. Hammonds

Broad Habitats

Fen, marsh and swamp (not wooded)

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 9

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.4

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1111

Height (cm): 40

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Clonality - secondary

Far-creeping by stolons in illuminated medium

Comment on Clonality

Creeping form is var. radicans

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2636

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 802

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: -0.26

Weighted Changed Factor: -36

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


JNCC Designations


Atlas text references

Atlas (17c)
Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1989)
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Smit PG
1973.  A revisin of Caltha (Ranunculaceae). Blumea. 21:119-150.