What are these little bits scattered around my yard

Asked June 29, 2020, 3:37 PM EDT

I've discovered there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of little seed like things scattered around my yard. In some places they're spread out and in other places they're clumped together. My neighbor thought they might be some type of seed from the trees, but I don't see anything like that in the trees. I thought they might be ant eggs, but they're rather large, about the size of a pine nut, and they're also hard. I've seen ant eggs when I turn over a rock but these are all on the surface. Any ideas?

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

Did you have any small yellow-flowering plants in this location earlier this spring? There is an invasive weed called lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) that produces tiny bulbs above and below ground that look similar to this. Refer to photos on the following pages to see if this is a plant you recognize. It blooms yellow in the spring, close to the ground, and then the plants die down in the summer. https://bygl.osu.edu/node/1016
You can slice into one and see if it is indeed fleshy (like a potato).

Wild garlic and wild onions produce small bulbs that are similar in shape. https://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org/pages/plants/wildgarlic.html You can check to see if they have any oniony scent.

They are not ant eggs but more likely are some type of plant propagule.


Thank you for the response. You're exactly right! We have those yellow flowers in the spring all over the yard, so those bulbs must be from those plants. I wish we could get rid of them.

Follow up questions:

1. Is there any way to actually destroy the roots so they don't come back in the spring? If so, what would I have to do?

2. Are those tiny pods that are currently visible on the surface dead, or will they germinate in the spring and produce more plants?

3. If those pods actually turn into plants in the spring, would it help to try to remove the visible ones now? Easier said than done, cause it would be a very tedious job, but if removing them would reduce the amount of celadine that grow back, it might be a little helpful. But I don't want to take the time or effort to remove them if they're just going to deteriorate anyway. What do you think? Thank you.

Lesser celandine is a serious invasive plant.

1. To get rid of it: Read the links at the bottom of this page: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/lesser-celandine It is sensitive to glyphosate, but the foliage must be growing when it is applied.

2. Yes, they will germinate. Animals and water will spread them.

3. Yes, removing them now would be smart.