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Pretty Flower or Invasive Weed?

Fig buttercup is considered to be an invasive species.

The fig buttercup is taking over lawns all over the Philadelphia area.

As I drove through the area over the past two weeks, I noted it in Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Bala Cynwyd, Haverford, Media, Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, Media, Conshohocken, Radnor, Merion, Wayne and Wynnewood just to name a few places. In some places, it’s one small plant and in others, there is nothing but a sea of yellow flowers.

Flower or Foe?

Two years ago, I would have looked at fig buttercup and thought how pretty those flowers looked, but no more. My husband and I bought a house with a side yard that has been invaded by the plant. The first year we were in the house, we thought the flowers looked nice, but we were moving in and didn’t have time to consider it more. Last year, we noticed that the fig buttercup had grown exponentially and was taking over our side yard.

Facts

A little research told us that fig buttercup, also known as lesser celandine, ficaire or the scientific name: ficaria verna was not a native species. The USDA’s National Invasive Species Information Center lists it as coming from Europe and as being introduced as an ornamental plant. The problem is that once you have it, it's very hard to get rid of it. The plant continues to multiply and pushes out other native species or plants you were trying to grow, which is why fig buttercup is listed as an invasive species.

Possible Solutions

So, last summer, my husband spent time, money and more time researching and fighting the weed. In the process, he killed almost all of the grass in our side yard (for which, I would like to apologize to my neighbors). But the summer ended, he replanted the grass and hoped the war was won. Now spring has sprung and so have the fig buttercups.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources notes that this weed is hard to control, but that it can be managed. For small infestations, the plants can be pulled, but it is important to make sure to get every blublet and tuber.

To control with chemicals, there is a short window, during the late winter-early spring, according to the DCNR.  

Apply a 1.5% rate of a 39 to 41% glyphosate isopropylamine salt (e.g., Rodeo for wetland areas) mixed with water and a non-ionic surfactant to foliage, avoiding application to anything but the celandine. Glyphosate is systemic; that is, the active ingredient is absorbed by the plant and translocated to the roots, eventually killing the entire plant. The full effect on the plant may take 1-2 weeks.  -DCNR

Check your weed killers for glyphosate in the ingredient list.

That’s what my husband did last year. He used weed killer with glyphosate, but still, they are back. The Plant Conservation Alliance says that, “Retreatment the following year will likely be needed.”

Do you have solutions for getting rid of this plant that have worked for you? Please share them in the comments area below.

Local Online Mentions of Fig Buttercup/Lesser Celandine:

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