Also known as yellow marsh marigold, the cowslip is from the buttercup family of plants. It is native to the United States. Botanically, it is known as Caltha palustris.
Growing one to two feet tall, this succulent has kidney- or heart-shaped leaves and shiny flowers. Leaves are glossy and green on thick stems. Flowers are in clusters, yellow, and buttercup-like in appearance. Bloom season is between April and May. The plant itself grows in a mound form.
This perennial prefers to grow in partial shade or full shade lighting conditions with a moist or wet acidic soil. It especially likes humus-rich soils. Propagate by seed or by division. Seed should be sown after ripening before it dries out.
This native is found in the states of Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. It is seen in the stream edges and in wet woods.
The juice of the plant can cause skin inflammation and blistering and gastric upset if ingested. The leaves are poisonous in large quantities from the compound Protoanemonin.
Early spring greens are edible when cooked. Closed buds can be pickled. Both are fixed by covering the plant with boiling water, not by actually boiling the leaves and buds. However, with the warnings above, I wouldn’t chance cooking this plant.