WINTER ACONITE

Eranthis hyemalis

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

month8jan month8feb month8mar month8march

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ6
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZmedium

5th March 2010, Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Grows in clumps early in the New Year.


5th March 2010, Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers large and deep yellow. Leaves in a collar-like frill just below the single flower.


5th March 2010, Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have six petals which at first form a ball, later a goblet. Seldom open fully. Note the seedlings without flowers which have five-pairs of leaves.


5th March 2010, Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The single balled-up flower has five pairs of leaves. Each leaflet is dark green, with several light-green veins, with a point at the tip.


5th March 2010, Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers have a mass of cream-coloured anthers within. The leaves are have a glossy sheen, many joined well beyond halfway.


5th March 2010, Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The pollen is cream-coloured. The semi-matte petals have translucent veins. In places the petals can tend towards orange.


5th March 2010, Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves have light-green veins.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
New leaves before the flowers appear. Contained within a circular envelope.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are palmately lobed, sometimes very deeply palmately lobed as here not dissimilar to those of Doves-foot Cranesbill (Geranium molle).


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaves have virtually no common land in the centre, with deep lobes, the lobes themselves fairly deeply cut.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are minutely pointed at the ends (mucronate tips).


Slight resemblance from afar to: Lesser Celandine. Both are extant around the same time, have deep-yellow single flowers, and occupy much the same niche: woodlands and copses. Lesser Celandine, however, has larger and kidney shaped leaves, with are not in a collar around the base of the flower.

Not to be semantically confused with : Winter Heliotrope (Petasites frangrans) or Winter Jasmine [plants with a similar names belonging to a differing family]

Some similarities to : Globeflower (Trollius europaeus) in that the flower at first appears as a single sphere which belongs to the same Buttercup Family (Ranuculaceae) but that has totally different leaves.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics: The surrounding collar of deep-green leaves divided into pairs just below the single flower.

Distinguishing Feature : The un-branched single-stem bearing a single large globe-like flower with six deep-yellow petals.

Some relation to : Monkshood (a plant of similar name: Aconitum Napellus) [although both are in the same family, Ranunculaceae, they are in different Genera.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis Hyemalis) should not be confused with Monkshood (Aconitum Napellus), they possess totally different toxins for a start].

It is a winter-flowering garden plant that has naturalised extensively into woods, parks and roadsides. It grows in deciduous woodland flowering very early in the season when the forest canopy has not yet appeared and sunlight can stream down to the forest floor. Hyemalis is derived from the Latin and means 'winter-flowering'.

CHROMENONE GLYCOSIDES

Winter Aconite contains several cardiac glycosides of the chromenone type such as Eranthin A and Eranthin B. It also contains another four different 4H-Chromenone Glycosides. They all exhibit negative inotropic activity. Ingestion of substantial quantities leads to symptoms of poisoning by cardiac glycosides: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, colic, bradycardia, disturbed vision, dyspnoea and finally cardiac arrest.

Shown is Eranthin only, being without any glycosides. [The author cannot find the structural formulae for the glycosides Eranthin A or B]. The glycosidic groups will be attached where the hydroxyl ion is, replacing the hydrogen atom with a glycoside, or more in a chain of glycosides. Chromenones such as this are presumably brightly coloured.


  Eranthis hyemalis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ranunculaceae  

Distribution
 family8Buttercup family8Ranunculaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Eranthis
Eranthis
(Winter Aconite)

WINTER ACONITE

Eranthis hyemalis

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

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