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

Life form information

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

Distribution information

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%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

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.