Winter aconites and snowdrops are well known heralds of spring, and its just fabulous to walk through the woods in Netherbyres here in Eyemouth and see swathes of these beautiful blooms at this time of year (see below). But today, on my wander, I saw my first lesser celandine (top image) too. Growing quite close to the ground, they are not quite so showy as aconites and snowdrops, but if you take a close look they are exquisite wee plants. The leaves are a glossy dark green and heart-shaped; and the yellow, star-shaped flower is composed of 8-12 petals that shine in the spring sunlight. It loves damp woodland paths, shady hedgerows, stream banks and ditches as well as gardens. They flower between January and April and so are an important early source of nectar for queen bumblebees and other pollinators when they emerge from hibernation.
One of the regional names for lesser celandine is "pilewort". This was based on the doctrine of signatures, the idea that if a plant resembles a part of the body, then it can be used to treat ailments to that body part. As the plant has knobbly tubers that look a bit like piles, so pilewort was used to cure them!