Caltha (marsh marigolds)











Caltha leptosepala
Photo by R.Kowal, University of Wisconsin (Madison) Dept. of Botany Teaching Collection

The genus Caltha (family Ranunculaceae) consists of approximately ten species of perennial, low growing herbs, found in moist temperate and cold regions of both hemispheres. The genus is characterized by a rosette of basal leaves; in the Southern Hemisphere the leaves usually have noticably upturned auricles. Flowers with five or more colorful sepals, no petals, numerous stamens and five to many distinct carpels, and follicle fruit.

Recent molecular work on the family (Figure 1) recognizes three sections: Natans (C. natans), Caltha (C. scaposa and C. palustris), and Psychrophila (C. leptosepala to C. introloba on tree below). (Schuettpelz thesis, publication in prep.)

Figure 1. Strict consensus tree of two shortest trees resulting from analysis of combined atpB-rbcL spacer, trnL-F region, ITS sequences and morphology. Tree was rooted with Trollius, Helleborus and Callianthemum. (Tree from Schuettpelz thesis, publication in prep.)


Schuettpelz, E. and S. B. Hoot. 2004. Phylogeny and biogeography of Caltha (Ranunculaceae) based on chloroplast and nuclear DNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 91: 247- 253.