Greater celandine
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Papaveraceae
Genus: Chelidonium
Species: C. majus
Binomial name
Chelidonium majus

Chelidonium majus (greater celandine; in Europe tetterwort, although in America the same name refers to bloodroot) is a herbaceous perennial plant, the only species in the genus Chelidonium. It is native to Europe and western Asia and introduced widely in North America.

While the greater celandine belongs to the poppy family, the lesser celandine belongs to the buttercup family.



Greater celandine has an erect habit, and reaches 30 to 120 cm high. The leaves are lobed and wavy-edged (crenate), 30 cm long. The sap is a yellow to orange latex.

The flowers consist of four yellow petals, each about 1 cm long, with two sepals. A double-flowered variety occurs naturally. The flowers appear from late spring to summer in umbelliform cymes of about 4 flowers.

The seeds are small and black, borne in a long capsule. Each has an elaiosome, which attracts ants to disperse the seeds (myrmecochory).

It is considered an aggressive invasive plant in natural areas (both woods and fields). Control is mainly via pulling or spraying the plant before seed dispersal.


A cut stem dripping with yellow sap (latex)

The whole plant is toxic in moderate doses as it contains a range of isoquinoline alkaloids but there are numerous therapeutic uses when used at the correct dosage.[1] The main alkaloid present in the herb and root is coptisine. Other alkaloids present include methyl 2'-(7,8-dihydrosanguinarine-8-yl)acetate,allocryptopine[2] stylopine, protopine, norchelidonine,berberine, chelidonine, sanguinarine chelerythrine[3] and 8-hydroxydihydrosanguinarine.[4] Sanguinarine is particularly toxic with an LD50 of 18 mg per kg body weight.[5] At this level of acute toxicity, the LD50 dose would require about 50 g of raw herb to be ingested. Caffeic acid derivatives are also present. Some alkaloids have shown potential activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [6]

The effect of the fresh herb is of a mild analgesic, cholagogic, antimicrobial, oncostatic[7][dead link] and central nervous system sedative. In animal tests, celandine is shown to be cytostatic.[8] An immune stimulating effect has also been noted. Some studies show that the alkaloid extraction can have the same effects. The alkaloids are known to cause immobilization in mice after being taken orally or injected. The alkaloids cause limpness and tone reduction of smooth muscle in rabbits. The alkaloids are also noted to stimulate the heart and lungs of frogs, cats and dogs, raising the blood pressure and widening the arteries.

The latex could be employed as a caustic for healing small open wounds. Early studies of celandine showed that it causes contact dermatitis and eye irritation, particularly from contact with the poisonous red to yellow latex sap of the stem. This effect has not been observed in animal studies; no inflammation was observed in rabbit eye tests. The latex can leave a non-permanent stain. Stains on skin of the fingers are sometimes reported to cause eye irritation after rubbing the eyes or handling contact lenses. When any part of the plant causes eye irritation, wash it out with clear water and when needed seek medical help. The latex is also known to stain clothes.

The characteristic latex also contains proteolytic enzymes and the phytocystatin chelidostatin, a cysteine protease inhibitor. [9] These co-constituents could explain the topical use of greater celandine against warts and moles.

"Ukrain" (Ukrainian: Україн) is an alternative medicine promoted to treat cancer based on chelidonium. The drug was created in 1978, by a Ukrainian chemist Vasyl Novytskyi. The drug is named in honor of the nation of Ukraine and is produced by an Austrian company Nowicky Pharma.[10]

C. majus. has shown analgesic activity at 200 mg/kg dose in mice.[11]


The aerial parts and roots of greater celandine are used in herbalism. The above-ground parts are gathered during the flowering season and dried at high temperatures. The root is harvested in autumn between August and October and dried. The fresh rhizome is also used. Celandine has a hot and bitter taste. The latex has a narcotic fragrance. Preparations are made from alcoholic and hot aqueous extractions (tea). The related plant bloodroot has similar chemical composition and uses as greater celandine.

As far back as Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides (1st century CE) this herb has been recognized as a useful detoxifying agent. The root has been chewed to relieve toothache.[12] It was formerly used by gypsies as a foot refresher; modern herbalists use its purgative properties.[13] Juliette de Bairacli Levy, the Jewish-English herbalist, recommended greater celandine for the eyes, diluted with milk, and the sap to be used for getting rid of warts.[14] Chelidonium was a favourite herb of the French herbalist Maurice Messugue, and in homeopathy the mother tincture, or low potencies, is regarded as a detoxifier of the liver.[citation needed]

Chelidonium majus has traditionally been used for treatment of various inflammatory diseases including atopic dermatitis.[15]It is also traditionally used in the treatment of gallstones and dyspepsia.[16]



  1. ^ Gruenwald, Joerg (2000). PDR for Herbal Medicines. Thomson PDR. ISBN 1-56363-361-2. 
  2. ^ Cahlikova L., Opletal L., Kurfurst M., Macakova K., Kulhankova A., Host'alkova A.,"Acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase inhibitory compounds from Chelidonium majus (Papaveraceae)." Natural Product Communications. 5 (11) (pp 1751-1754), 2010. Date of Publication: 2010.
  3. ^ Li X.-L., Yao J.-Y., Zhou Z.-M., Shen J.-Y., Ru H.-S., Liu X.-L.,"Activity of the chelerythrine, a quaternary benzo[c]phenanthridine alkaloid from Chelidonium majus L. on Dactylogyrus intermedius." Parasitology Research. 109 (1) (pp 247-252),July 2011
  4. ^ Park J.E., Cuong T.D., Hung T.M., Lee I., Na M., Kim J.C., Ryoo S., Lee J.H., Choi J.S., Woo M.H., Min B.S.,"Alkaloids from Chelidonium majus and their inhibitory effects on LPS-induced NO production in RAW264.7 cells". Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 21 (23) (pp 6960-6963), 2011. Date of Publication: 01 Dec 2011.
  5. ^ Golob, Peter; Caroline Moss, Melanie Dales, Alex Fidgen, Jenny Evans and Irene Gudrups (1999). The use of spices and medicinals as bioactive protectants for grains. FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin. 137. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization. ISBN 92-5-104294-2. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  6. ^ Zuo G.Y., Meng F.Y., Hao X.Y., Zhang Y.L., Wang G.C., Xu G.L."Antibacterial alkaloids from chelidonium majus linn (papaveraceae) against clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus." Journal of pharmacy & pharmaceutical sciences : a publication of the Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Societe canadienne des sciences pharmaceutiques. 11 (4) (pp 90-94), 2008.
  7. ^ Natural Standard Drug Monograph. Accessed June 16, 2009.
  8. ^ Nawrot R., Wolun-Cholewa M., Gozdzicka-Jozefiak A."Nucleases isolated from Chelidonium majus L. milky sap can induce apoptosis in human cervical carcinoma HeLa cells but not in Chinese Hamster Ovary CHO cells". Folia Histochemica et Cytobiologica. 46 (1) (pp 79-83), 2008. Date of Publication: 2008.
  9. ^ B. Rogelj et al., (1998) Phytochemistry 49 (6): 1645-9. PMID 9862139
  10. ^ The official site about the drug Ukrain
  11. ^ Sever Yilmaz B., Ozbek H., Saltan Citoglu G., Ugras S., Bayram I., Erdogan E."Analgesic and hepatoprotective effects of Chelidonium majus" L.. Ankara Universitesi Eczacilik Fakultesi Dergisi. 36 (1) (pp 9-20), 2007.
  12. ^ Chevallier, Andrew (1996). The encyclopedia of medicinal plants. New York: DK Publishing. p. 185. ISBN 0-7894-1067-2. 
  13. ^ Howard, Michael (1987-05-21). Traditional Folk Remedies. Century Paperbacks. Ebury Press. pp. 146–147. ISBN 978-0712617314. 
  14. ^ Bailes M.., "The Healing Garden" , ISBN 9780731807536
  15. ^ Gabsik Yang, Kyungjin Lee, Mi-Hwa Lee, So-Hyung Kim, In-Hye Ham, Ho-Young Choi, "Inhibitory effects of Chelidonium majus extract on atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions in NC/Nga mice", Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 138, Issue 2, 18 November 2011, Pages 398-403, ISSN 0378-8741, 10.1016/j.jep.2011.09.028. (
  16. ^ Mazzanti G., Di Sotto A., Franchitto A., Mammola C.L., Mariani P., Mastrangelo S., Menniti-Ippolito F., Vitalone A. ,"Chelidonium majus is not hepatotoxic in Wistar rats, in a 4 weeks feeding experiment". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 126 (3) (pp 518-524), 10 Dec 2009.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chelidonium — n. a genu having only one species; the greater celandine. Syn: genus {Chelidonium}. [WordNet 1.5] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Chelidonium —   [ç , zu griechisch chelido̅n »Schwalbe« (nach Plinius, weil Chelidonium mit der Ankunft der Schwalben erblüht, mit ihrem Wegzug verblüht)], die Pflanzengattung Schöllkraut.   * * * Che|li|do|ni|um [ç...], das; s [zu griech. chelidōn,… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Chelidonium — ist: der wissenschaftliche Name für die Gattung des Schöllkrauts in der Antike ein Kap vor der Südküste der Türkei, siehe Chelidon Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselben Wort bez …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chelidonĭum — (Ch. L.), Pflanzengattung zur Familie der Papaveraceae Papavereae verae, 1. Ordn. 13. Kl. L., milchende Kräuter mit zweiblätterigem abfallendem Kelche, 4 Blumenblättern, zahlreichen Staubgefäßen, einer schotenartigen, zweiklappigen Kapsel, deren… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Chelidōnium — L. (Schöllkraut), Gattung der Papaverazeen, mit der einzigen Art C. majus L. (Schwalbenkraut, Gilbkraut, Warzenkraut, Schöll oder Goldwurz), eine zarte, bis 1 m hohe Staude mit verzweigtem, behaartem Stengel, abwechselnden gefiederten Blättern… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Chelidonium — Chelidonĭum L., Schöllkraut, Pflanzengattg. der Papaverazeen. Einzige Art C. majus L. (Warzen , Schwalben , Gilbkraut), überall auf Schutt, Mauern etc. sich findend, hat scharfen, rotgelben Milchsaft …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Chelidonium — Chelidonium, Schöllkraut, Ch. majus L. der Familie der Papaveraceae, Mohnblütigen, angehörig, eine allenthalb bei uns an Hecken, Mauern und Schutthaufen gemeine Pflanze, mit gelben Blüthen, hauptsächlich an ihrem allenthalben, wo sie die… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Chelidonium — Chélidoine Grande chélidoine …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Chelidonium — noun one species: greater celandine • Syn: ↑genus Chelidonium • Hypernyms: ↑dilleniid dicot genus • Member Holonyms: ↑Papaveraceae, ↑family Papaveraceae, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • chelidonium — chel·i·do·ni·um .kel ə dō nē əm n 1) cap a genus of yellow flowered herbs of the poppy family (Papaveraceae) that have yellowish acrid juice and include the celandine 2) a preparation of celandine (Chelidonium majus) used esp. formerly as a… …   Medical dictionary

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