Anemone nemorosa

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Anemone nemorosa
Anemone nemorosa 001.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Anemone
Species: A. nemorosa
Binomial name
Anemone nemorosa
Anemone nemorosa map1.jpg

Anemone nemorosa is an early-spring flowering plant in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to Europe. Common names include wood anemone, windflower, thimbleweed, and smell fox, an allusion to the musky smell of the leaves. It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing 5–15 centimetres (2–6 in) tall.


The plants start blooming soon after the foliage emerges from the ground. The compound leaves are palmate or ternate (divided into three lobes)[1]:106 and the flowers are solitary, produced on short stems, held above the foliage. They grow from underground root-like stems called rhizomes and the foliage dies back down by mid summer (summer dormant). The rhizomes spread just below the soil surface, forming long spreading clumps that grow quickly, contributing to its rapid spread in woodland conditions, where they often carpet large areas.

The flower is 2 centimetres (0.8 in) diameter, with six or seven (and on rare occasions eight to ten) tepals (petal-like segments) with many stamens. In the wild the flowers are usually white but may be pinkish, lilac or blue, and often have a darker tint on the backs of the tepals. The flowers are pollinated by insects, especially hoverflies.[2] The seeds are achenes.[1]

Grown from seed the plants take around five years to flower. [3][4]

The yellow wood anemone (Anemone ranunculoides) is a similar plant with slightly smaller, yellow flowers.

Medicinal uses[edit]

The plant contains poisonous chemicals that are toxic to animals including humans, but it has also been used as a medicine. All parts of the plant contain protoanemonin, which can cause severe skin and gastrointestinal irritation, bitter taste and burning in the mouth and throat, mouth ulcers, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and hematemesis.[5]


Common in shady woods.[6]


Anemone nemorosa is grown as an ornamental plant for use in gardens and parks.


Many cultivars have been selected for garden use, such as Anemone nemorosa 'Allenii' which has large blue flowers. It has been awarded an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) H4 (hardy throughout the British Isles) by the Royal Horticultural Society, as have several of its cultivars (see below).

The RHS Plant Finder 2008–2009 lists 70 cultivars of Anemone nemorosa (AGM H4) available from nurseries in the UK. Some of those most widely available are:

Anemone × lipsiensis with its parents
  • 'Alba Plena' - double white
  • 'Allenii' (AGM H4) - large lavender-blue flowers, often with seven petals (named after James Allen, nurseryman)
  • 'Bowles' Purple' - purple flowers (named after E.A. Bowles, plantsman and garden writer)
  • 'Bracteata Pleniflora' - double, white flowers, with green streaks and a frilly ruff of bracts
  • 'Robinsoniana' (AGM H4) - pale lavender-blue flowers (named after William Robinson, plantsman and garden writer)
  • 'Royal Blue' - deep blue flowers with purple backs
  • 'Vestal' (AGM H4) - white, anemone-centred flowers
  • 'Virescens' (AGM H4) - flowers mutated into small conical clusters of leaves.

Anemone × lipsiensis, a hybrid between A. nemorosa and A. ranunculoides, has pale yellow flowers; A. × lipsiensis 'Pallida' is the best-known result of this cross. It has been awarded the AGM H4, like both of its parents.



Not to be confused with Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella which grows in similar shaded places, is small and has 5 white petals and 5 sepals. It (Oxalis acetosella) can be readily distinguished by the leaves which are ternate and clover-like.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b Stace, C. A. (2010). New Flora of the British Isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 88. ISBN 9780521707725. 
  2. ^ Blank, S. and M. Wulf. Investigations on seed production and pollinator biology of Anemone nemorosa (Buschwindröschen). Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF). 2008.
  3. ^ Colonization of secondary woodlands by Anemone nemomsa Jbrg Brunet and Goddert von Oheimb - Nodic Journal of Botany
  4. ^ "funeral flowers".  Friday, 14 July 2017
  5. ^ Symptoms of Plant poisoning - Protoanemonin.
  6. ^ Parnell, P. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  7. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press
  8. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783

Further reading[edit]

  • Shirreffs, D. A. 1985. Anemone nemorosa L. Journal of Ecology 73: 1005-1020.
  • Philip, C. Plant Finder 2008-2009. ISBN 978-1-4053-3190-6.