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Photo by: Gary Fewless

Location: UWGB, Brown Co., WI

Date taken: March 18,2001

Camera: Olympus C2500L
digital camera


marsh marigolds blooming in the Arboretum.

Marsh Marigolds
(Caltha palustris)

Marsh Marigolds, sometimes called "Cowslips" are an early-flowering spring species of wet sites. When they grow in strong springs, as shown here, the soil does not freeze over winter and the flowers open very early in the spring. On other sites they may not flower for another month or more. In large patches they can be some of the most striking spring wildflower displays.

The origin of the name "cowslips" is not clear. One recent account claims that the name is a corruption of a european name "Cows lips", but the true origin is difficult to know. It is more likely a corruption of Cows leacs, from the old Anglo-Saxon word for plant, or cowslop, since they often appear a splotches of color in cow pastures.

Over the last 15 years or so Marsh Marigolds have declined dramatically in numbers on UWGB. Part of the decline was probably due to the very dry conditions of the late 1980's and to unusual weather conditions which caused the plants to flower in the fall and subsequently freeze, on several ocassions. The illegal picking of Marsh Marigolds for bouquets has also been a contributing factor. As the human population grows and the area of wild land decreases, people will have to adopt new attitudes about wildflowers if they are to persist for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

Contributed by Gary Fewless, Arboretum Botanist

© 2001-2004 The Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, All Rights Reserved
Last updated on May 12, 2014