Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Chelidonium majus - Greater celandine

Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy/Fumitory family) [E-flora]

"Chelidonium majus is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

"General: Perennial herb from a taproot and a somewhat woody stem-base; stems erect, branched, few, ribbed, sparsely hairy, 30-80 cm tall, with orange-coloured juice." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Leaves: Basal leaves bright green above, blue-green and smooth beneath, blades broadly oblong to egg-shaped, pinnately divided to the midvein into round-lobed or toothed segments, 6-25 cm long, the stalks 2-10 cm long; stem leaves similar, alternate." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Characteristics: Celandine has a hot and bitter taste. The latex has a narcotic fragrance." [PDR]

"Habitat / Range Mesic to dry roadsides and fields in the lowland and montane zones; rare in SW and SC BC; introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]


Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Greater celandine has a long history of herbal use[4]. Traditionally it was employed as an ophthalmic to treat and clear the eyesight whilst in modern herbal medicine it is used more as a mild sedative, antispasmodic and detoxifying herb, relaxing the muscles of the bronchial tubes, intestines and other organs[254]." [PFAF]
"The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Chelidonium majus for liver and gallbladder complaints (see [302] for critics of commission E)." [PFAF]

"Dosages (Celandine) — 0.5 g herb single dose (HHB); 3–9 g herb/day (MAB); 2–5 g crude herb (or 12–30 mg total alkaloids) (KOM; SHT); 0.5 g root (PHR); 2–4 ml liquid extract (PNC); 1–2 ml/day fluid extract (1:2) (MAB); 2–4 ml/day tincture (1:5) (MAB); 1.8–7.5 g juice (MAD)" [HMH Duke]

"Extracts (Celandine) — Extracts, as well as chelidonine, chelerythrine, protopine, and sanguinarine have antibacterial and antitussive activities (PNC). Chelidonine lowers arterial blood pressure, relaxes smooth muscle spasms and bronchial spasm, increases urine production, and delays or inhibits the development of anaphylactic shock in vivo. Alpha-allocryptopine, chelidonine, and sanguinarine have in vivo analgesic activities (PNC). LD50 (decoction) 9500 mg/kg ipr mouse (MAB); LD50 (alkaloids) 300 mg/kg scu mouse (MAB)." [HMH Duke]

Select Indications — Amenorrhea (f; FAD; MAD); Angina (f; HHB; PHR); Asthma (f; MAD; PHR; PH2); Atherosclerosis (f; HH2; PHR; PH2); Bacteria (1; BRU; PNC); Biliary Dyskinesia (2; KOM; SHT); Bronchosis (1; MAB; MAD; PNC); Cancer (1; CRC; MAB; PHR); Cancer, breast (1; CRC; JLH); Cancer, colon (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, jaw (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, kidney (1; CRC; JLH); Cancer, lip (f; CRC; JLH); Cancer, liver (f; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, lung (1; MAB); Cancer, mouth (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, neck (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, nose (1; CRC; FNF; JLH; PH2); Cancer, ovary (f; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, parotid (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, penis (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, pharynx (1; FNF; PH2); Cancer, rectum (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, skin (f; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, spleen (1;CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, stomach (1; CRC; FNF; JLH; PH2); Cancer, testicle (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, tongue (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, urethra (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Cancer, uterus (1; CRC; FNF; JLH); Candida (1; HH2; MAB); Catarrh (f; HHB; PHR); Cholecystosis (2; CRC; HHB; MAB; MAD; PHR; PH2); Condylomata (1; CRC; HH2; MAB); Corneal Opacity (f; MAB; MAD); Corn (f; CRC; PNC); Cramp (2; HHB; KOM; MAB; PH2; SHT); Eczema (f; CRC; FAD); Edema (f; MAD; PHR; PH2); Enterosis (2; HHB; KOM; MAB); Fever (f; CRC; MAD); Freckle (f; CRC; MAD); Fungus (1; HH2; MAB); Gastrosis (2; BRU; HHB; KOM; MAB); Gout (f; CRC; MAD; PHR; PH2); Hemorrhoid (1; CRC; FAD); Hepatosis (2; CRC; MAB; MAD; PHR; PH2); Herpes (1; MAB); High Blood Pressure (1; KOM; PHR; PH2; PNC); Hyperglycemia (f; CRC); Hypertonia (f; KOM; PH2); Hypochondria (f; MAD); IBS (2; MAB); Immunodepression (1; KOM; PH2); Infection (1; HH2; MAB); Inflammation (1; FAD; MAB; PNC); Insomnia (f; CRC; HHB); Jaundice (f; CRC; HHB; MAB; MAD; PHR; PH2); Mastosis (f; JLH; PH2); Mycosis (1; HH2; MAB); Nervousness (f; CRC; HHB); Pain (1; CRC; HHB; PH2; PNC); Pertussis (2; MAB; MAD; PNC); Pneumonia (f; HHB; MAD); Polyp (2; CRC; MAB; PHR; PH2); Psoriasis (1; CRC; MAB; MAD); Rhinosis (f; JLH; PH2); Ringworm (f; CRC; FAD); Scabies (f; MAD; PHR; PH2); Staphylococcus (1; HH2; MAD); Stone (f; HHB; MAD; PHR); Toothache (f; MAD; PHR); Tumor (1; CRC; MAB); Virus (1; BRU; MAB); Wart (f; CRC; HHB; MAB; MAD; PHR); Water retention (1; MAD; PNC); Wound (f; CRC; FAD); Yeast (1; HH2; MAB). “Spastic discomfort of the bile ducts and gastrointestinal tract” (KOM). [HMH Duke]


Activities - "Abortifacient (f; MAD); Alterative (f; CRC; PNC); Analgesic (1; CRC; PH2; PNC); Anthelminthic (f; MAD); Antiaggregant (1; MAB); Antianaphylactic (1; PNC); Antibacterial (1; PNC); Anticancer (f; CRC); Antiherpetic (1; MAB); Antiinflammatory (1; MAB; PNC); Antileukotriene (1; MAB); Antimutagenic (1; MAB); Antisarcomic (1; MAB); Antiseptic (1; MAB; PH2); Antispasmodic (1; KOM; MAB; SHT); Antithromboxane (1; MAB); Antitussive (1; PNC); Antitumor (1; MAB); Antiviral (1; BRU; MAB); Aphrodisiac (f; CRC); Candidicide (1; HH2; MAB); Cholagogue (1; BRU; PH2; SHT); Cholekinetic (1; MAB; SHT); Choleretic (1; BRU; MAB; SHT); CNS-Depressant (1; HHB; PH2); Collyrium (f; CRC); Cytotoxic (1; KOM; MAB; PH2); Deobstruent (f; CRC); Diaphoretic (f; CRC; MAD); Diuretic (1; MAD; PNC); Expectorant (f; CRC); Fungicide (1; HH2; MAB); Hepatoprotective (1; CRC; MAB); Hepatotoxic (1; BRU); Hypoglycemic (f; CRC); Hypotensive (1; KOM; PH2; PNC); Immunostimulant (1; KOM; PH2); Keratopreventive (1; MAB); Laxative (f; CRC); 5-Lipoxygenase-Inhibitor (1; MAB); 12-Lipoxygenase-Inhibitor (1; MAB); Myocontractant (f; PH2); Myorelaxant (1; PNC); Protisticide (1; MAB); Sedative (f; CRC; HHB); Trichomonicide (1; MAB); Uterocontractant (1; PH2); Vulnerary (1; MAB)." [HMH Duke]

Herb: "Celandine has mild analgesic, cholagogic, antimicrobial,, oncostatic and central-sedative effects. It also acts as a spasmolytic on smooth muscles. In animal tests, Celandine is a cytostatic. It also has a nonspecific immune-stimulating effect. Note: The blood pressure-lowering effects and the therapeutic efficacy for mild forms of hypertonia (borderline hypertonia) need further investigation." [PDR]

"The plant contains the alkaloid chelidonine, which is similar to the alkaloid papaverine found in poppies. This alkaloid has antispasmodic and sedative effects on the bile ducts and bronchi. However, results have been inconsistent, especially if the preparation is not fresh[244]. The plant also contains the alkaloid sparteine, which restores normal rhythm to feeble arrhythmic myocardia[207]." [PFAF]


"Succeeds in any soil other than boggy conditions[1, 111, 233]. Prefers a rich soil of a woodland nature[1, 31]. Shade tolerant[31]. Plants grow well on walls if they are given a semi-shaded position and a pocket of soil into which to root[219]. A short-lived perennial[187], but it self-sows freely and can easily become a weed[200]. It quickly colonizes waste ground and thin woodland areas[233]. Once established, the plant is very difficult to eradicate." [PFAF]

"Groundcover: Plants rapidly form a ground cover, but should only be used in wild places because of their invasive nature[200]." [PFAF]

"Propagation Seed - sow in situ February to May or August to November. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 12 months[164, 200]. The plant self-sows freely and should not need much encouragement. Division in March[111]. The plant bleeds profusely so this method is not recommended[200]." [PFAF]



  1. [E-flora], Accessed Jan 25, 2015; March 27, 2021
  2. [PFAF], Accessed March 29, 2015

Chelidonium Sp. - Celandine

"The genus Chelidonium is in the family Papaveraceae in the major group Angiosperms (Flowering plants)." "The Plant List includes 19 scientific plant names of species rank for the genus Chelidonium. Of these 2 are accepted species names." These are Chelidonium asiaticum (Hara) Krahulc. and Chelidonium majus L. [ThePlantList] "Contains 1 Species and 1 accepted taxa overall" This being Chelidonium majus L., containing three viarieties, var. laciniatum (Mill.) Syme, var. majus, and var. plenum Wehrhahn. [USDA] "Chelidonium is a small genus, consisting of two to three species, depending on the taxonomic treatment. These are:[2][4] Chelidonium asiaticum - Native to eastern Asia Chelidonium hylomeconoides - Native only to the Korean peninsula Chelidonium majus - Native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia" [Wiki]

Local Species;

  1. Chelidonium majus - greater celandine [E-flora]


Page last modified on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 10:23 AM