Giant buttercups! That’s what these bright spring flowers look like at first glance! They are indeed members of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, but they are much larger than buttercups, and a lot showier.
These marsh marigolds were growing in a wetland area on my neighbor’s property in Blacksburg. Nearby, skunk cabbage and golden ragwort were growing side by side.
The marsh marigold flowers were so showy that I would have guessed they were garden cultivars, but they are not. This is a spring-blooming native species with shiny, heart-shaped leaves and large yellow flowers (1-2 in). The flowers have 5 to 9 sepals (no true petals) and many stamens.
Marsh marigold goes by many names, including cowslip and water fennel. In terms of consumption, the leaves are toxic. In fact, handling the plant can cause skin irritation, so exercise caution when weeding or moving this beautiful plant.
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What do they call the tall yellow flowers that are currently growing in fields and on the sides of the road?
It is probably a mustard! They are growing everywhere around here in Southwest Virginia right now!