Anemonoides nemorosa

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Anemonoides nemorosa
Anemone nemorosa 001.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Anemonoides
A. nemorosa
Binomial name
Anemonoides nemorosa
(L.) Holub
Anemone nemorosa map1.jpg
  • Anemanthus nemorosus (L.) Fourr.
  • Anemonanthea nemorosa (L.) Gray
  • Anemone nemorosa L.
  • Anemone nemorosa f. vulgaris Ulbr.
  • Anemone nemorosa-alba Crantz
  • Anemone pentaphylla Hook. ex Pritz.
  • Pulsatilla nemorosa (L.) Schrank

Anemonoides nemorosa (syn. Anemone nemorosa), the wood anemone, is an early-spring flowering plant in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to Europe.[1] Other common names include windflower, European thimbleweed,[2] and smell fox, an allusion to the musky smell of the leaves.[3] It is a perennial herbaceous plant growing 5–15 cm (2–6 in) tall.


Six-petaled white flower
Typical flower

Anemonoides nemorosa is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant less than 30 centimetres (12 in) in height. The compound basal leaves are palmate or ternate (divided into three lobes).[4]: 106  They grow from underground root-like stems called rhizomes and die back down by mid summer (summer dormant).

The plants start blooming in spring, March to May in the British Isles[5]: 28  soon after the foliage emerges from the ground. The flowers are solitary, held above the foliage on short stems, with a whorl of three palmate or palmately-lobed leaflike bracts beneath. The flowers are 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.

Similar species[edit]

The yellow wood anemone (Anemonoides ranunculoides) is slightly smaller, with yellow flowers and usually without basal leaves.[4]

Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella, which grows in similar shaded places, can be readily distinguished by its 3-parted, clover-like leaves and smaller flowers with only white petals and 5 sepals.[5][6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Eight A. nemorosas in the coat of arms of Raseborg

The native range of Anemonoides nemorosa extends across Europe to western Asia, reaching as far south as the Caucasus Mountains in Turkey. It has been introduced into New Zealand and elsewhere.[1] In North America, there are naturalized populations at well-known sites in Newfoundland, Quebec, and Massachusetts.[7][8]

A. nemorosa is often found in shady woods.[6] The species is common in the British Isles[5] but it spreads very slowly there, by as little as six feet per century, so it is often used as an indicator for ancient woodland.[9]



The flowers are pollinated by insects, especially hoverflies.[10] The seeds are achenes.[4]

In cultivation[edit]

Many cultivars have been selected for garden use, The RHS Plant Finder 2008–2009 lists 70 cultivars sold by nurseries in the UK. Some of the most widely available are:

Anemonoides × lipsiensis, center, with its parents, A. nemorosa, left, and A.ranunculoides, right
  • 'Alba Plena' - double white
  • 'Allenii'agm[11] - 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[12] - pale lavender-blue flowers (named after William Robinson, plantsman and garden writer)
  • 'Royal Blue' - deep blue flowers with purple backs
  • 'Vestal'agm[13] - white, anemone-centred flowers
  • 'Virescens'agm[14] - flowers mutated into small conical clusters of leaves

Those marked agm are recipients of the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Anemonoides × lipsiensis, a hybrid between A. nemorosa and A. ranunculoides,[15] has pale yellow flowers; A. × lipsiensis 'Pallida' is the best-known result of this cross. It has also been awarded the AGM.[16]



  1. ^ a b c "Anemonoides nemorosa (L.) Holub". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Anemone nemorosa Wood Anemone, European thimbleweed PFAF Plant Database". Plants for a Future. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  3. ^ "Wood anemone". UPM Forest Life. 2019-05-13. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  4. ^ a b c Stace, C. A. (2010). New Flora of the British Isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-521-70772-5.
  5. ^ a b c Clapham AR, Tutin TG, Warburg EF (1981). Excursion Flora of the British Isles (3 ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23290-2.
  6. ^ a b Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  7. ^ Dutton, Bryan E.; Keener, Carl S.; Ford, Bruce A. (1997). "Anemone". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 3. New York and Oxford. Retrieved 2020-11-28 – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  8. ^ " Anemone nemorosa". County-level distribution map from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  9. ^ Plantlife - Wood Anemone
  10. ^ Blank, S. and M. Wulf. on seed production and pollinator biology of Anemone nemorosa (Buschwindröschen). Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF). 2008.
  11. ^ "Anemone nemorosa 'Allenii'". RHS. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana'". RHS. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Anemone nemorosa 'Vestal'". RHS. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Anemone nemorosa 'Virescens'". RHS. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  15. ^ Astuti, Giovanni; Marconi, Giancarlo; Pupillo, Paolo; Peruzzi, Lorenzo (17 May 2019). "Anemonoides × lipsiensis comb. nov. (Ranunculaceae), new for the Italian flora". Italian Botanist. 7: 101–105. doi:10.3897/italianbotanist.7.35004. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Anemone × lipsiensis 'Pallida'". RHS. Retrieved 12 April 2020.

Further reading[edit]