A Chemical Defense


There have been no press releases, no headlines or even tweets. Marsh Marigold or Caltha palustris, is in bloom. Its green leaves and opulent yellow flowers are another spring delight. Identified as marigold, yet in the buttercup family of plants, we find this perennial of spring in shaded wet places. These were growing in a bog. They grow in sun-washed areas too, but not without water present. Don’t look for it in mountain states or the south, but expect to see it in all of Canada and the rest of the lower 48 where it is native.

Marsh Marigolds blossoms stand out in the low light conditions where these plants are usually found.

Marsh Marigold stands out another way. Unnoticeable in observation, the Marsh Marigold and member of the buttercup plant family has a powerful defense, protoanemonin. Calling it chemical would be perfect, it is. Not warfare though, the chemical protoanemonin is a gastro intestinal and skin irritant. An equal surprise, the chemical is destroyed by heat. It becomes an edible plant after cooking in two or more changes of water.

Search for it. First, your eyes and heart will delight in the delicate majesty of this plant. Second, your search will require you to go outside to wooded places. While searching you will experience a third most important benefit: you will need to slow down. Your mind will need to release its hundreds of other conflicting thoughts. Peace of mind will come, anxiety will dissipate. A calmness will come upon you. You will begin to see the hand of God.

Knowing God is near removes human fear. Fredrik Wisloff, a Norwegian minister wrote the book, Rest Awhile. In it Wisloff stated, To be anxious is to doubt God. He went on to write, The one who believes (in God) does not make haste. (This one) has learned to wait for the Lord. Faith often consists in waiting.

There is no haste in a search for the Marsh Marigold. There is quietness, beauty, and waiting. Waiting for the ONE who made this spring attraction to calm the heart, and speak to the soul.


Author: davidwellis

What does a grandfather, husband, former public school teacher and Education Specialist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service with many life experiences in nature do with them? A naturalist with a camera-makes outside a daily destination. My confidence is that God will guide my words, and photos. We live in a magnificent world, come and look at it with me through eyes, lens and words. To God be the glory. Current Profile Photo- Prickly Ash, the name summarizes this brushy undergrowth well. It fascinates me with its thorny branches. Seeing a vine wrapped around the trunk called for a photo.