Fig Buttercup has recently been found in Greenville County. Never heard of it? Try Lesser Celandine. It may be in the gardening catalog on your kitchen table, promoted as an easy-to-grow alternative to the rare native Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).
This is SC’s first documented sighting of Ficaria verna growing outside of cultivation. It is a vigorous plant that emerges in early Spring before most natives, forming a green blanket which, once established, native plants cannot penetrate. Toothworts, Dutchman’s Breeches, Trout Lily, Trillium and Bloodroot are some of the natives most at risk.
It produces numerous tubers and bulblets, each of which can grow into a new plant when separated from the parent by animals or well-meaning weed-pullers, or carried downstream. Its bright buttery yellow flowers were in full bloom here in early April — an infestation looking like a green carpet with yellow dots, growing in low open woods, floodplains, meadows and waste places. After flowering, its above-ground parts die back and are mostly gone by June; it survives the winter as thickened fingerlike underground stems.
Chemical pesticides can be effective, but are best used early before natives and amphibians have emerged. Small infestations can be tackled by hand digging with a small trowel, but soil disturbance can encourage further infestation. If digging is attempted, care must be taken to bag every scrap of plant, and make sure they are completely dead before delivering to a landfill.
To see the Greenville County infestation, which spreads along 1.5 miles of Reedy River floodplain, download Conestee~Ficaria.pdf