Greater Celandine

I- NomenclatureChélidoine
Latin Name; Chelidonium Majus, L.
Family: Papaveraceae
Common names: Gretar Celandine

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French celidoine, from medieval Latin celidonia, based on Greek khelidōn for the bird 'swallow'

II- Legends and traditions
The plant is associated with swallows as it is said to flower when they arrive in the spring and to wither when they leave.
Its acrid juice has been employed successfully in removing films from the cornea of the eye, a property which Pliny tells us was discovered by swallows, this being a double reason why the plant should be named after these birds

III- Botanical description

Description: The Celandine is a herbaceous perennial. The slender, round, slightly hairy and much branched stems grow to 30 – 50cm. The sap is a yellow to orange latex which stains the skin, has an acrid smell and is a powerful irritant.
The plant’s yellowish-green leaves, paler on the underside, are very thin and droop on gathering. They are slightly hairy, 6 to 12 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. They form multi-lobed leaves that are deeply divided as far as the central rib, generally forming two pairs of leaflets, placed opposite to one another.
The flowers consist of four yellow petals, each about 1 cm long, with two sepals. They appear from late spring to summer in umbelliform cymes of about 4 flowers. They have a dense mass of stamens in the center of the flowers.
Numerous long seedpods carrying small, black seeds appear after flowering. Each seed has an elaiosome, which attracts ants to disperse the seeds (myrmecochory)
Habitat: Common throughout Europe and Western Asia.
Greater celandine grows on the edge of paths, wasteland, along walls and on the edge of woodland. The plant is considered to indicate the presence of nitrogen in the soil.
Parts used: Dried aerial parts, root and latex (used fresh before the flowering season begins).
Harvest: The aerial parts are gathered during the flowering season and dried at high temperatures. The root is harvested in autumn between August and October and dried.

IV- Active ingredients

Alkaloids: 0.1 to 1% (inc. coptisine, berberine, sanguinarine, chelerythrine)
Chelidonic acid
Organic acids: malic acid, citric acid and caffeic acid

V- Therapeutic uses


Internal use
  • antispasmodic
  • cholagogue (promotes the discharge of bile)
  • purifier in the case of bile-related problems
External use
  • caustic
  • wart removal


Jaundice and liver problems
Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
Asthma, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, insomnia due to anxiety or an inability to switch off
Warts, corns and calluses
Chronic inflammation of the cornea

Juice: apply fresh sap 3 times a day on warts and calluses. Make sure the rest of the skin is not exposed.
Decoction of dried leaves or highly diluted sap: chronic inflammation of the cornea, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), chronic ulceration of the eyelids.
Fresh sap or freshly crushed root: ulcers and dandruff.
Infusion of dried leaves: 15 to 30gr/ liter of water.
Decoction of dried root: 10 to 15gr/ liter of water.
Dry root powder: 2 to 4 g/day.
Wine: as a diuretic and laxative, infuse 15 to 50 gr of root in a liter of white wine. Take one glass every morning.
Eye drops: 4g of juice in 60 to 100 g of rose water.

VI- Precaution of use

Do not consume fresh Celandine.
Do not use during pregnancy, while breast feeding or for children under the age of 12.
Do not use in case of bile duct obstructions or liver weakness

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