Ficaria verna / Speenkruid

Het speenkruid in de tuin, geschreven en ooit gepubliceerd in het reclame krantje van Baarle Nassau zowat 40 jaar geleden.

'Rotgoed' zei de tuinman, 'als je dat eenmaal in je tuin hebt, kom je er nooit meer van af'. 'Interessant' was mijn antwoord; 'vanwaar deze kennis?''Geleerd' was het antwoord en hij bukte zich om de treiterende, stralende gele sterbloemen van het speenkruid (Ranunculus ficaria) uit zijn toch zo fraaie tuin te verwijderen.

In mijn tuin kwamen ook enorme hoeveelheden speenkruid voor, maar ondanks het feit dat ik er niets tegen deed, zijn de plantjes later vrijwel verdwenen. Dit plantje behoort namelijk. tot de vroege voorjaarsplanten, die niet van een hoge gemid­delde temperatuur houden en dus verdwijnen als die temperatuur 12 à 13 graden wordt.

Maar dat is niet het hele verhaal over het speenkruid. Het plantje komt vooral voor op gronden, die een goede organische structuur hebben, dus gronden met strooisellagen van blad en takken, houtwallen e.a. In het voorjaar is de bovenste laag van deze dekmantel vaak wat dor en levenloos. Maar dan komt plots het hemelbrood (zaadje van speenkruid) tot ont­wikkeling en komen driftig de speenkruid-plantjes de grond uit. De korte, dichte groeiwijze garandeert dat de wat droge afvallaag geheel wordt overdekt met een deken van zeer actieve groene plantjes. Samen met de regen zorgen deze plantjes ervoor dat de grond vochtig en warm wordt. Daardoor worden de omstandigheden gunstig voor een snelle ver­tering van de nog aanwezig afval van de vorige herfst en winter.

De eerste nieuwe humus (gezonde grond) is dan ook afkomstig van het gedurende korte tijd aanwezige speenkruid, dat rijk is aan fosfaten en eiwitten en een zeer goede voedingsbron is voor nieuwe grotere groepen bacteriën. Door stijging van de totale vruchtbaarheid ter plaatse wordt het terrein aantrekkelijker voor veeleisender plantensoorten. Bovendien veran­dert, mede door deze verrijking van de bodem, het gebied dan in slechte zin voor de minder veeleisende soorten. En hoe intensief de knolletjes van het hemelbrood zich dan ook mogen verspreiden en met hoeveel gretigheid deze plantjes bezit gaan nemen van een bepaald terrein tenslotte wordt deze driftige activiteit het speenkruid toch weer noodlottig. De terug­gang vertoont overeenkomst met die van de brandnetel. De plantjes worden kleiner, de grootte van de blaadjes neemt af en zo wordt het gebied op een gezonde manier aan zijn opvolgers in de natuur overgelaten.

Het wieden verstoort de boven beschreven ontwikkeling op zo'n wijze dat de tijd waarbin­nen deze evolutie moet verlopen, alleen maar wordt verlengd. Het gevolg voor de mens is eindeloos wieden. De andere mogelijkheid is meewerken met de natuur; want net zolang zal het 'hemelbrood' uitregenen over de aarde, totdat "de mens heeft geleerd nutteloze arbeid achterwege te laten.

Tip voor natuurtuinieren:
Doe zoals de natuur, bedek je grond in herfst en winter met een strooisellaag van bladeren, groenteafval, takjes en zo blijft (1) je grond beschermd tegen weersinvloeden (erosie) (2) verkrijg je in de lente een zeer goede meststof (oppervlaktecompost) en (3) werk je mee aan de gezondmaking van de aarde.

Hoe speenkruid zich vermeerdert. Na de bloei in het voorjaar vormt zich in de oksel van ieder blad een knop, waaruit knolletjes groeien. Als in mei weer bladeren aan de bomen komen wordt het weer donker op de bosbodem. De bladeren van het speenkruid vergelen en teren weg. De genoemde okselknolletjes komen vrij en worden door het regenwater over de bosbodem verspreid. Als ze op een gunstige plaats liggen kunnen uit de knolletjes worteltjes groeien. Deze worteltjes verankeren zich in de bodem en door te krimpen trekken ze het knolletje dieper de grond in. Al in het voorjaar vormen zich de eerste blaadjes.



Speenkruid giftig?
Wie op internet informatie over Speenkruid zoekt via een bekende zoekmachine, vindt dat de plant van Speenkruid in alle stadia iets giftig is door protoanemonine, en het sterkste wanneer het plantenmateriaal verwelkt. Deze alkaloïde breekt af bij verhitting of verdroging. De spenen, bladeren en stengels zijn eetbaar en werden gebruikt tegen aambeien (‘Pilewort’, Engels!), borstkwalen, scheurbuik (‘Scharbockskraut’, Duits!) en voor huidverzorging (er schijnen echter dan nogal eens irritaties te ontstaan). De spenen dienen voor of na de bloei verzameld te worden en moeten worden geblancheerd of geroosterd. De bladeren, stengels en okselknolletjes zijn het beste voor de bloei en dienen gestoomd, gewokt, of
geblancheerd te worden. Bloemknoppen op azijn zijn een soort kappertjes. In de materia medica van de Middeleeuwen zag men [medicinale!] overeenkomsten met Stinkende gouwe (Chelidonium maius, zie L.46, 1753) en noemde men Speenkruid Chelidonium minus (zie Garsault61, 1764).

Ranunculus edulis Boiss. & Hohen., een synoniem van Ficaria verna subsp. kochii (Ledeb.) Veldk., heet zo, omdat de stengels en bladeren in sommige plaatsen in Rusland gegeten werden met gekookte rijst.

Kerner von Marilaun 62 63 verklaart de legende van de ‘aardappelregen’. Als de planten afgestorven zijn, liggen de okselknolletjes, die wel wat op hele kleine aardappeltjes lijken, verstrooid op de aarde en onder het vergeelde loof vallen ze nauwelijks op. Maar als er een onweer opsteekt met zware regenval, worden de knolletjes verder los- en schoongespoeld en door het water meegenomen, totdat ze in een rustiger omgeving zich langs de randen van de plassen afzetten. Dat kan in zulke grote hoeveelheden gebeuren, dat je er handenvol tegelijk van kan opscheppen:
schoongewassen en klaar voor consumptie. De boeren, die de knolletjes onder het blad niet hadden opgemerkt, maar het onweer wel, dachten, dat de knolletjes uit de hemel gevallen waren. Neilrung noemde dit in 1859 ‘Getreideregen’ (graanregen).64

61. F.A.P. de Garsault. 1764. Les figures et animaux d’usage en médicine. Garsault, Paris. Opus utique rejiciendum.
62. A. Kerner von Marilaun. 1891. Pflanzenleben. 2. Geschichte der Pflanzen: 746. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig, Wenen.
63. A. Kerner von Marilaun. 1902. Het leven der planten 4: 190 (V. Bruinsma, vert.). Schillemans & Van Belkum, Zutphen.
64. A. Neilreich. 1859. Flora von Nieder-Oesterreich: 685–686. Gerold’s Sohn, Wenen.

Mogelijk’ werkt het proto-anemonine, een stofje van de boterbloemfamilie, irriterend op de ingewanden. Dat zorgt voor diarree. Maar echt giftig, zoals bijvoorbeeld waterscheerling of gevlekte scheerling, zijn speenkruid en dotterbloemen niet.
Ook als kappertjes, bloemknoppen in gezouten azijn. zijn zowel speenkruidknoppen als dotterbloemen goed te eten. Het bittere van de verse knop is dan verdwenen. De speenkruidkappers hebben ook nog dat rinse, dat eigen is aan echte kappertjes.



Ficaria verna Huds. (Ranunculaceae), known as pilewort is a small perennial plant widely distributed throughout Europe (Szafer et al., 1988; Tutin et al., 1964; Jasiewicz, 1985). It is used in folk medicine as an anti-inflammatory, astringent, antibiotic and anti-hemorrhagic treatment. In particular, extracts of F. verna are applied to haemorrhoids by topical application as ointment or suppository (Delacroix, 1969; Docheva-Popova and Popov,1955; Palliez et al., 1968; Boulet, 1996). Previous chemical investigations of F. verna tubers proved the presence of triterpenoid saponins (Brisse-LeMenn et al., 1990; Texier et al., 1984). In the fresh plant, ranunculin and products of its enzymatic decomposition have been observed (Bonora et al.,1988). Recently, in our previous papers, we have reported the identification of phenolic acids and the isolation and structure elucidation of flavonoids:kaempferol, kaempferol 3-O-glucoside, quercetin 3-O-glucoside, kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside, quercetin 3-O-rutinoside, kaempferol 3-Orutinoside- 7-O-glucoside as well as quercetin 3-Orutinoside- 7-O-glucoside and C-glycosidic derivatives of flavones: vitexin, orientin and vitexin 2.-Oglucoside from the flowers and leaves of F. verna (Gudej and Tomczyk, 1999; Tomczyk et al., 2002; Tomczyk and Gudej, 2002a). In addition, triterpenes and sterols from flowers of pilewort were identified (Tomczyk and Gudej, 2002b)

Quantitative Analysis of Flavonoids in the Flowers and Leaves of Ficaria verna Huds. Michał Tomczyk* and Jan Gudej
Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University of Białystok, ul. Mickiewicza 2a, 15-230 Białystok, Poland. Fax: +48-85-7485416.


 
Ficaria in literature
The poet William Wordsworth was very fond of the flower and it inspired him to write three poems including the following from his ode to the celandine:
I have seen thee, high and low,
Thirty years or more, and yet
T'was a face I did not know.
Upon Wordsworth's death it was proposed that a celandine be carved on his memorial plaque inside the church of Saint Oswald at Grasmere, but unfortunately the Greater celandine Chelidonium majus was mistakenly used.

Edward Thomas wrote a poem entitled "Celadine." Encountering the flower in a field, the narrator is reminded of a past love, now dead.
C. S. Lewis mentions celandines in a key passage of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when Aslan comes to Narnia and the whole wood passes "in a few hours or so from January to May". The children notice "wonderful things happening. Coming suddenly round a corner into a glade of silver birch trees Edmund saw the ground covered in all directions with little yellow flowers - celandines".[4]
A reference appears in Tony Hendra's The Messiah of Morris Avenue: "He was kneeling on a carpet of violets and celandines." (p. 144)

J. R. R. Tolkien mentions this plant when he describes spring in Ithilien: "Great ilexes of huge girth stood dark and solemn in wide glades with here and there among them hoary ash-trees, and giant oaks just putting out their brown-green buds. About them lay long launds of green grass dappled with celandine and anemones, white and blue, now folded for sleep; and there were acres populous with the leaves of woodland hyacinths: already their sleek bell-stems were thrusting through the mould." The Two Towers, Book IV, Ch 7, 'Journey to the Cross-roads'

D.H. Lawrence mentions celandines frequently in Sons and Lovers. They appear to be a favourite of the protagonist, Paul Morrel;
"...going down the hedgeside with the girl, he noticed the celandines, scalloped splashes of gold, on the side of the ditch. 'I like them' he said 'when their petals go flat back with the sunshine. They seem to be pressing themselves at the sun.'
And then the celandines ever after drew her with a little spell."[5]

4 C. S. Lewis (1950). The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. End of chapter 11, beginning of chapter 12
5 D. H. Lawrence (1913). Sons and Lovers. Chapter 6: Death in the family



Celandine, Lesser / A Modern Herbal Mrs. Grieve
Botanical: Ranunculus ficaria (LINN.) 
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae

Part Used
Constituents
Medicinal Aciton and Uses
Recipes
---Synonyms---Small Celandine. Figwort. Smallwort. Pilewort. 
---Part Used---Herb. 
---Habitat---The Lesser Celandine, one of the very earliest of spring flowers, its cheery, starlike blossoms lighting up our hedges even before winter is quite spent, is distributed throughout Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, in these islands, growing up the hillsides in Wales to a height of 2,400 feet. It grows in moist corners of fields and places near watersides, but is found also on drier ground, if shady, being one of the few plants that thrive beneath the shade of trees, where its glossy foliage frequently forms a dense carpet.
Wordsworth, whose favourite flower this was (in recognition of which the blossoms are carved on his tomb), fancifully suggests that the painter who first tried to picture the rising sun, must have taken the idea of the spreading pointed rays from the Celandine's 'glittering countenance.' The burnishing of the golden petals gives a brilliant effect to the flowers, which burst into bloom about the middle of February, a few days only after their bright, shining leaves. The leaves are on long stalks, arising from a short, prostrate stem, and are very variable, the first being heart-shaped, the later ones bluntly cut into, somewhat like the ivy. They often have dark markings.
The blossoms shut up before rain, and even in fine weather do not open before nine o'clock, and by 5 p.m. have already closed for the night. The Celtic name of the plant, Grian (i.e. the sun), refers to this habit. The petals are green on the underside, and directly the flowers close they become inconspicuous.

Throughout March and April, this cheerful little plant is in full bloom, but as the spring passes into summer, the flowers pale somewhat, and the whole plant looks rather sickly, the warmth of the lengthening days withdrawing from it the needed moisture. By the end of May, no flowers are to be seen, and all the plant above ground withers and dies, the virtue being stored up in the fibres of the root, which swell into the form of tubers. If the plant is dug up, late in the summer or autumn, these tubers are seen hanging in a bunch, a dozen or more together, looking like figs, hence the plant's specific Latin name ficaria, from ficus (a fig). By these tubers, the plant is increased, as they break off readily, each tuber, like a potato, producing a new plant. To eradicate this plant from any ground, it is necessary to remove the roots bodily, for if the plants are dug into the soil, they work their way up to the surface again, the stems branching as they grow upward from the tubers, and at every branch producing fresh tubers.

The early awakening of the plant is due to these fully-stored tubers, which lie quiescent all the summer and autumn, but all necessary materials being at hand, leaves and flowers are quickly pushed upwards directly the depth of the winter has passed.

Although the Lesser Celandine has been placed by some botanists in a distinct genus, when it is called Ficaria verna, it is more generally assigned to the Buttercup or Crowfoot genus, Ranunculus. The name of this genus, first employed by Pliny, alludes to the damp and marshy localities preferred by the plants of the family, Rana, being the Latin for a frog, whose native haunts are those of the majority of this group of plants. The Lesser Celandine is distinguished from the Buttercup by having nine or ten, even sometimes a dozen narrow petals, instead of five, and only three sepals (the outer, generally green leaves of the flower), which fall off on opening, instead of the usual five, which remain after the flower has expanded, in the other species of Ranunculus. The flowers rise singly from the root, on long, slender, leafless stalks and are about 1 inch in diameter. There are a number of stamens. The fruits are not unlike those of the Buttercups being dry and distinct, set together in a globular head, somewhat like a grain of corn and whitish in colour, but comparatively few fertile seeds are produced.

The flowers would originally appear to have been designed with the object of attracting insects for their fertilization, the bright coloured, burnished petals having honey sacs at their base, but the flowers can face colder days than the insects can, for whom the honey has been provided, blooming when few of the insects have emerged, with the result that comparatively few become fertilized in this country and not many seeds are produced. The plant, therefore, has recourse to another method of reproduction, independent of all external aid. At the point where the upper leaves join the stem are to be seen little objects like minute round tumours, which grow about the size of a grain of wheat. In the early summer, when the leaves and stems are dying down, these grains become loose and drop to the ground. Each is capable of producing a new plant. A heavy rain will sometimes wash them from the plants in every direction. Kerner, in his Natural History of Plants, tells us that:
'a sudden downpour of rain in a region abundantly overgrown with Lesser Celandine is sufficient to float away numbers of the tubers, and heap them up on the borders of irrigation channels when the rain disperses. In such places the quantity of tubers which have floated together is often so large that one can hardly gather them in one's hands. In this way arose the idea that the tubers had fallen from heaven with the rain and the myth of a rain of potatoes.'
This fact probably accounts, also, for the 'rains of wheat' sometimes vouched for by country people in various parts. These bulbils (i.e. Iittle bulbs) are only produced on those plants whose fruits have failed to set.
The root of the Lesser Celandine is perennial.

Seedlings do not flower in their first year, but collect and store up material to start their accustomed course at the end of the ensuing winter.

The whole plant is glabrous.

It is called the Lesser Celandine to distinguish it from the Greater Celandine, to which it has neither relationship nor similarity, except in the colour of its flowers, though the older herbalists applied the name to both plants indiscriminately. The confusion of names existed in Gerard's time, for he published a list of all the plants in cultivation in his garden on Holborn Hill - to wards the close of the sixteenth century and introduced in it, under the same name, both this and the Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus) which certainly is in bloom when the swallows arrive, and continues to flower the whole summer, and so would have more right to the name Celandine than this species, which blossoms long before they come, and dies down months before they leave our shores.

A figure of the Lesser Celandine - under the name of Erdöpffel - appears in an old German Herbal of 1533, Rhodion's Kreutterbuch, evidence that this plant was well known to the herbalists of the Middle Ages.

It is also called 'Small-wort.'

The old English name of Pilewort is due to the fact that it has long been considered a cure for piles, one of the reasons assigned for this resting on the strange doctrine of signatures. We are told by an old writer: 'If you dig up the root of it you will perceive the perfect image of the disease commonly called the piles.' Gerard writes of it:
'It presently, as Galen and Dioscorides affirm (though this perhaps refers to the Greater Celandine) exulcerateth or blistereth the skin: it maketh rough and corrupt nails to fall away. The juice of the roots mixed with honie and drawn up into the nosthrils purgeth the head of foul and filthy humours. The later age use the roots and graines for the piles . . . there be also who think that if the berbe be but carried about one that hath the piles, the pain forthwith ceaseth.'
Culpepper, writing fifty years later, tells us:
'It is certain by good experience that the decoction of the leaves and roots doth wonderfully help piles and haemorrhoids; also kernels by the ears and throat called the King's Evil, or any other hard wens or tumours.'
He had such faith in the virtues of this little plant that he further tells us, with more definite belief than Gerard: 'The very herb borne about one's body next the skin helps in such diseases though it never touch the place grieved.'
The young leaves, the substance of which is soft and mucilaginous, have sometimes been boiled and eaten as a vegetable in Sweden, but have not the reputation of being very palatable, either thus treated or raw as a salad.

Linnaeus advised farmers to eradicate the plant from their land on account of it being disliked by cattle (though wood-pigeons eat it with avidity), also for its injurious effect on other herbs in the meadow, but there seems little ground for this assumption, as although the tissues of most plants in this order contain acrid juices to a high degree, the acrimony of the Lesser Celandine is of a very mild character. A dressing of coal or wood ash is said to effectually destroy the whole plant.

---Part Used---The whole herb is collected in the wild state, while in flower in March and April, and dried.
---Constituents---Nothing is known definitely concerning the constituents of Pilewort the fresh plant, however, probably contains traces of an acrid principle resembling or identical with Anemonin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Astringent This herb is an old remedy for piles, for which it has recently been re-introduced into the British Pharmacopoeia, and is considered almost a specific.
Internally, the infusion of 1 OZ. in a pint of boiling water is taken in wineglassful doses, and will in most cases be sufficient to effect a cure.

It is also used externally as an ointment, made from the bruised herb with fresh lard, applied locally night and morning, or in the form of poultices, fomentations, or in suppositories.

A most excellent ointment has been recommended for external abscesses, etc., made from Pilewort, Elder-buds, House-leek, and leaves of the Broad Plantain, prepared in the early spring, when the Pilewort is in flower.
The roots are highly valued as a medicine in Cochin-China.

RECIPES

The following old-time recipes connected with this herb occur in A Plain Plantain (R. G. Alexander):
---For a Sore Throat--- 
'Take a pinte of whitewine, A good handful of Sallendine, and boile them well together; put to it A piece of the best Roach Allome, sweeten it with English honey, and use it.'

---A Marvellous Precious Water--- 
'Take Gallingall (Galingale), Cloves, Cubibs, Ginger, Mellilote, Cardamonia, Maces, Nutmegs, one dram- of the juice of Salendine, 8 drams; mingle all these made in powder with the said juice and a pint of Aquavitae, and 3 pints of Whitewine; putt itt into A Stillitory of Glass; and the next day still it with An easy fire.
'This water is of an excellent Virtue Agst A Consumption or any other Disease that proceeds from Rheume Choller or Fleagnie.'

All the species of Ranunculus, except the Water Crowfoot, are acrid, and before the introduction of Cantharides (Spanish Fly), many, especially R. sceleratus, were used as vesicatories. They are said to act with less pain and without any action on the urinary passages, but their action is supposed to be uncertain, and they are accused of frequently leaving ill-conditioned ulcers. Since the introduction of Cantharides, their employment has therefore fallen into disuse. Formerly it was not at all uncommon for beggars to produce sores about their bodies by the medium of various species of Ranunculus, for the sake of getting alms, afterwards curing these sores by applying fresh Mullein leaves to heal them.

Pliny tells us that:
'they raise blisters like those caused by fire, hence the plant is used for the removal of leprous spots. They form an ingredient in all caustic preparations.'



Uit de Flora Batava 1900


Merkwaardig is wel dat in de Flora Batava staat dat de wortelknollen juist goed eetbaar zijn na de bloei. Terwijl, nu gezegd wordt dat de bladeren juist voor de bloei alleen eetbaar zouden zijn, alhoewel daar geen exacte gegevens over bestaan.



Chem Cent J. 2012 Mar 5;6(1):16. doi: 10.1186/1752-153X-6-16. Ficaria verna Huds. extracts and their β-cyclodextrin supramolecular systems. Hădărugă NG1.

Obtaining new pharmaceutical materials with enhanced properties by using natural compounds and environment-friendly methods is a continuous goal for scientists. Ficaria verna Huds. is a widespread perennial plant with applications in the treat of haemorrhoids and to cure piles; it has also anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antibiotic properties. The goal of the present study is the obtaining and characterization of new F. verna extract/β-cyclodextrin complexes by using only natural compounds, solvents, and environment-friendly methods in order to increase the quality and acceptability versus toxicity indicator. Thus, the flavonoid content (as quercetin) of Ficaria verna Huds. flowers and leaves from the West side of Romania was determined and correlated with their antioxidant activity. Further, the possibility of obtaining β-cyclodextrin supramolecular systems was studied.
RESULTS:
F. verna flowers and leaves extracts were obtained by semi-continuous solid-liquid extraction. The raw concentrated extract was spectrophotometrically analyzed in order to quantify the flavonoids from plant parts and to evaluate the antioxidant activity of these extracts. The F. verna extracts were used for obtaining β-cyclodextrin complexes; these were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy and Karl Fischer water titration; spectrophotometry was used in order to quantifying the flavonoids and evaluates the antioxidant activity. A higher concentration of flavonoids of 0.5% was determined in complexes obtained by crystallisation method, while only a half of this value was calculated for kneading method. The antioxidant activity of these complexes was correlated with the flavonoid content and this parameter reveals possible controlled release properties.
CONCLUSIONS:
The flavonoid content of F. verna Huds. from the West side of Romania (Banat county) is approximately the same in flowers and leaves, being situated at a medium value among other studies. β-Cyclodextrin complexes of F. verna extracts are obtained with lower yields by crystallisation than kneading methods, but the flavonoids (as quercetin) are better encapsulated in the first case most probably due to the possibility to attain the host-guest equilibrium in the slower crystallisation process. F. verna extracts and their β-cyclodextrin complexes have antioxidant activity even at very low concentrations and could be used in proper and valuable pharmaceutical formulations with enhanced bioactivity.



Z Naturforsch C. 2003 Sep-Oct;58(9-10):762-4.
Quantitative analysis of flavonoids in the flowers and leaves of Ficaria verna Huds.
Tomczyk M1, Gudej J.
The quantitative determination of flavonoid compounds in flowers and leaves of Ficaria verna Huds. (Ranunculaceae) was carried out in different growing seasons of the plant, using Christ-Müller's method (Polish Pharmacopoeia, 1999) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis after acid hydrolysis. The flavonoid content was much higher in flowers than in leaves.




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