Chelidonium majus. N.O. Papaveraceae.
Synonym ► Garden Celandine, Greater Celandine. Habitat ► Uncultivated places, and close to old walls.
Features ► This straggling, well-branched plant, which belongs to the poppy family, is not related either medicinally or botanically to Pilewort, which latter is commonly known as the Small or Lesser Celandine. This apparent confusion probably arose from some imagined superficial resemblance. The hairy stem of our present subject reaches a height of two feet, and exudes a saffron-yellow juice when fresh. The pinnate leaves are also slightly hairy, green above and greyish underneath, and are six to twelve inches long by two to three inches wide. The root tapers, and the yellow- flowers appear in May and June singly at the end of three or four smaller stalks given off from the end of a main flower stalk. The taste is bitter and caustic, the smell disagreeable.
Part used ► Herb.
Action ► Alterative, diuretic and cathartic.
The infusion of 1 ounce to 1 pint of boiling water is taken in wineglassful doses three times daily, as part of the treatment for jaundice, eczema, and scrofulous diseases. The infusion is also helpful when applied directly to abrasions and bruises, and the fresh juice makes a useful application for corns and warts.
Culpeper knew of the virtues of Celandine in jaundice, and refers to it thus ► “The herb or roots boiled in white wine and drunk, a few Aniseeds being boiled therewith, openeth obstructions of the liver and gall, helpeth the yellow jaundice.”