Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is one of the first wild edible greens to emerge in Spring. I simply love it and munch my way through a fair few pounds when its around. Its such a versatile green. But hold your horses…
Contrary to what many foragers recommend, I do not advice that you eat this plant raw. The sap was used by beggars in the Middle Ages to create ‘fake’ sores in order to elicit extra charity. I think that bit of history tells you why eating lesser celandine raw may not be advisable.
Lesser celandine contains protoanemonin, an acrid blistering sap which increases as the plant flows into flower. Cooking destroys protoanemonin.
Warnings aside, this is one of my favourite plants, but these days I eat it only cooked.
This Lesser Celandine Recipe Serves: 5
Robin Harford is a self-taught ethnobotanist, and has spent over a decade traveling, researching, recording and uncovering the traditional and contemporary use of wild plants in Britain and beyond. More recently his work has taken him to Africa, India, SE Asia and Europe. He is a co-director of Plants & Healers International, a non-profit that connects people, plants and healers around the world.