Traditional names: greater celandine, golden grass, devil’s milk, nipplewort, swallowwort.


It is a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the poppy family (Papaveraceae) with branching rhizome. The tubular stem grows up to 30-110 cm tall, with forked branches at the upper part. The leaves are pinnate with lobed, wavy-edged margins and hairy. In the first year the long rhizome leaves come out, then the short stem leaves. It is an umbrelliferous plant with 3-8 flowers. The yellow flowers have 4 petals, but also appears with 5 petals. It flowers from May to the first frosts. Its crop is a siliquiform capsule with numerous black seeds. When injured any part of the plant exudes an orange latex.

Tetterwort is a well-known medicinal plant for ages. Its Latin name comes from the Greek word chelidon (meaning swallow). The mostly accepted opinion in this regard is that the tetterwort starts flowering when the swallows arrive and they keep flowering until they stay.

Its use has been recorded already in the 16th century by Melius Peter botanist, who boiled tetterwort roots in wine, mixed with anise and recommended it against jaundice, boiled tetterwort sprouts in rose vinegar in order to heal belly ache. Csapó József wrote in 1775: „wart from hand can be removed with the yellow juice of the plant.” This usage is known till nowadays.


Tetterwort is native to Eurasia, to the temperate climate zones of Europe and Asia. This is a weed which grows under fences, on fringe of forests, next to water gangs, on unimproved lands, in gardens, in muggy and limy soil. It mostly appears in nitrogen-rich soil. It requires warm and has medium water demand.


Pick the upper 20-30 cm of the sprouts without the thicker parts of the stem, while flowering. The roots are collected with the rhizome late autumn or early spring, though it has the highest content of active substances at the beginning of summer.

The flowers and leaves are naturally or artificially dried in a thin layer. The cleaned roots must be placed next to each other in order to dry properly. Store them separately, since they are very strong drugs.

Active Substances

The herb contains 0.2-0.3% of alkaloid, while the roots contain 0.4% of alkaloid. The latex of the plant contains 20 different kinds of alkaloids (60-70% chelidonin, beside this sanguinarin, alpha and beta homochelidonin, berberine, cheleritrine). It also contains color substances, resin and protein dissolving enzymes. The oil content of the seeds is 46.6%. The most alkaloids are contained in the roots. The petals, seeds and anther do not contain alkaloids.


In traditional medicine the orange latex is used for getting rid of wart. This effect is assured by   the synergy of protein dissolving enzymes and chelidonine. It is a proved bactericide. The chelidonine contained in tetterwort is an effective mitosis- and tumour-inhibitor. In the pharmaceutical industry its drug is used for producing medicine against gall bladder and liver diseases.

It has very strong effect, can be used only with the recommendation of the doctor!

Thanks to its antibacterial effect it is used in unguents, toothpastes and rinsing waters. Tetterwort is used in the cosmetic industry as antidandruff agent. Thanks to its tranquilizer and regenerator agents can be used in cosmetic products for treating dry, scaly and itchy skin as well as with other antimicrobial plants against skin and nail fungus.