You can find small numbers of lesser celandines (Ranunculus ficaria) in flower in sheltered spots from Christmas onward but it is in March that they begin to appear in greater profusion in the Dorset countryside. By the beginning of April there are carpets of them on banks, in woodlands, along hedgerows, on river sides, in fact all over the place. Their bright, cheery faces glow and glisten in the spring sunlight and are a timely reminder of the transformations that occurs before our very eyes every spring, something we must surely all look forward to?
The lesser celandine is a member of the buttercup family, ranunculacae. It certainly has the golden colouring we associate with buttercups but the petals are narrower and are more pointed making an almost eight-pointed star shaped flower whereas other buttercups tend to have five petals with flattened or rounded ends so there is little chance of confusion.
There is a greater celandine which is not a ranunculus, it is a member of the crucifereae (cabbage) family and looks nothing like the the lesser! That just goes to show why we use Latin names for precision in identification and not common English country names which can often be very confusing.