Everyone associates poet extraordinaire William Wordsworth with daffodils – ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud …’ – but Wordsworth’s favourite flower was, in fact, the Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), as witnessed by the bloom carved on his memorial plaque at the Church of St Oswald in Grasmere. As I wandered through woodlands and along river banks today, feeling not the slightest bit lonely, I saw a lot of this pretty flower. Along with the primroses and daffodils, it’s another of the yellow wildflowers that is both charming and uplifting at this time of year.
I’m not sure what ailments Wordsworth suffered from but perhaps he favoured the Lesser Celandine because it has long been considered a treatment for haemorrhoids, hence its old English name of Pilewort. According to the Ancient Greek physician Galen, sniffing a mixture of the juice of the roots with honey was also good for clearing the head of ‘foul and filthy humours’, though I wouldn’t recommend sniffing anything that also cured piles!