Greater celandine

Greater celandine

Greater celandine

Specification & Spread

Celandine herb — herba chelidonii
Greater celandine — chelidonium majus l.
Poppy family — papaveraceae
Other names: plume poppy, killwort, swallowwort, wartwort.
It is a perennial herb with erect branchy shoots 30-80 cm tall.
The taproot is branched, with a short vertical rhizome.
The leaves are alternate, deeply pairwise-pinnipotent (lyre-shaped) with almost opposite opposite pairs of lobes. The bottom and lower stem leaves are larger, on long petioles, upper ones – sessile, with a smaller number of lobes. The lobes of the leaves are round or ovate, with a large, unevenly-grained margin. The top leaves are green, the bottom – bluish, covered with a waxy bloom. The flowers are bright yellow on long pedicels, 4-8 clustered at the ends of the stems in umbellate inflorescences. The cup consists of 2 sepals, falling when the flower blooms. The corolla is correct, of 4 obovate petals, 10-15 mm in diameter. A lot of stamens. There are 1 pestle, with the upper single ovary.
The fruit is a pod-shaped capsule 3-6 cm long, opening with two leaves from the base to the top.
The seeds are brownish-black, numerous, shiny, with a white, comb-like appendage. All parts of the plant contain milky orange juice.
It blooms from May to autumn. Fruits ripen in July – September.
Spreading. Eurasian species. It is spread in all regions of the European part of the country, in Siberia (except for the Arctic), in the Caucasus.
Habitat. It grows as a weedy-ruderal plant near housing, on waste grounds, in gardens, parks, and vegetable gardens. It is found in small clumps, it does not form large thickets. Natural reserves are many times greater than the demand for raw materials of celandine.


In all parts of the plant there are contained:

  • alkaloids, derivatives of isoquinoline, the number of which in the herb can reach 2%, and in the roots – 4%.

The composition of alkaloids is very complex, and in its structure it belongs to different subgroups of isoquinoline derivatives:

  • protoberberin alkaloids (berberine, coptisine, etc.),
  • protopin alkaloids (protopin, allokriptin),
  • benzophenanthridine alkaloids (chelidonine, homohelidonin, chelerythrine, methoxychelidonine, hydroxyhelidonine, sanguinarine, etc.).

Besides alkaloids there are:

  • saponins, 0.01%,
  • essential oil,
  • flavonoids (rutin, kaempferol, quercetin),
  • tannins,
  • organic acids (citric, malic, amber),
  • vitamins (ascorbic acid, carotenoids).

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The herb is harvested in the phase of mass flowering of the plant (from June to August), cutting it off with knives or sickles, and when it is thick – mowing flowering tops with braids, without coarse lower parts of the stems.
Security measures. When harvesting for the resumption of the thickets, it is necessary to leave well-developed group for seeding, not to tear the plants from the root. In order to preserve the thickets, repeated harvesting is carried out not earlier than in 2-3 years.
Drying. It is dried immediately in a dryer at a temperature of 50-60 °C, in attics under an iron roof or under a shed with good ventilation. The raw materials are laid out loosely, in a thin layer, from time to time turning. With slow drying, the herb grows brown and rotten.
When packing raw materials, wet gauze masks should be worn on the face, since the dust from it causes strong irritation of the nasal mucosa.
Storage. In dry, well-ventilated areas.

Whole raw materials. Whole or partially shredded leafy stems with buds, flowers and fruits of different degrees of development, pieces of stems, leaves, flowers and fruits. The stems are slightly ribbed, sometimes branched, hollow, slightly pubescent in internodes, up to 50 cm long. The leaves are alternate, petiolate, broadly elliptical in outline, plates unpaired with pinnacles with 3-4 pairs of lobed-lobed segments. The buds are obovate with two pubescent sepals, falling down when the flower blooms.
There are 4-8 flowers in axillary umbellate inflorescences on peduncles, elongated during the fruiting period. The corolla is of 4 obovate petals, many stamens, upper ovary. The fruit – oblong, pod-shaped, bivalve capsule. The seeds are numerous, small, ovate with a pitted surface (under a magnifying glass), with a fleshy white appendage.
The colour of the stems is light green, the leaves are green on one side, bluish on the other, bright yellow corolla, fruits are greyish-green, the seeds are brownish to black. The smell is peculiar. The taste is not determined(!).
Milled raw materials. The pieces of leaves, stems, flowers and fruits of various shapes, passing through a sieve with holes of 7 mm diameter.
The colour is greyish green with yellow patches. The smell is peculiar. The taste is not determined(!).

Properties and application

Celandine herb has a multilateral pharmacological activity.
However, the main properties are:

  • antispasmodic,
  • choleretic and
  • anti-inflammatory (bactericidal).

Celandine alkaloids have the highest pharmacological activity.
Chelidonin gives a pronounced:

  • painkiller and
  • sedative effect, similar in effect to the poppy alkaloids – papaverine and morphine,

Helidonin also provides:

  • antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles,
  • possesses hypotensive and
  • bradycardic properties.

Homohelidonin, on the contrary:

  • gives a convulsive effect,
  • has a strong local anesthetic effect.

The alkaloid protopin is contained in a plant in rather large quantities:

  • reduces the reactivity of the nervous system and
  • enhances the tone of smooth muscles.

For chelerythrine there is characteristic:

  • pronounced irritant effect.

Sanguinarine renders:

  • anticholinesterase effect (increases intestinal motility and secretion of saliva), Berberin has:
  • choleretic.

The preparations of celandine:

  • inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors and
  • development of metastases,
  • have fungistatic and
  • bacteriostatic action.

Application of celandine
Celandine herb is used in the form of 2.5% water infusion inside as:

  • choleretic and
  • bactericidal agent for liver and gall bladder diseases,
  • as well as outdoor,
  • anti-inflammatory agent for various skin diseases.

Milky juice of celandine has long been used for information warts.
The herb extract of celandine is part of the complex preparations of choleretic, antispasmodic action.
The herb celandine is used with caution and only as prescribed by a doctor.

Application is contraindicated in persons suffering from:

  • epilepsy,
  • angina pectoris
  • bronchial asthma,
  • as well as a number of neurological syndromes.

The plant is poisonous, overdose can develop poisoning (symptoms – nausea, vomiting, paralysis of the respiratory center).
It is not recommended to bathe children in the broth of the herb celandine.