Flowers: Has anywhere between (and including) 5 to 10 petal-like white or pinkish sepals.
Leaves: It has three un-evenly and deeply divided leaves, some sets so deeply divided as to look like three or five separate leaves, but they are in fact trifoliate.
Occupies the semi-shaded parts of deciduous wood, also on hedge-banks and sometimes on grassy canal bans or even occasionally on mountains.
Being a member of the Buttercup family, it has poisonous lactones within the sap detailed within the box below.
There are several other anemone species, all mostly garden escapes:
and several less frequent others lacking a common name.
Blue Anemone (Anemone apennina) which has larger but blue flowers (sometimes white or pink) with narrower and more numerous petals.
- Balkan Anemone (Anemone blanda) which is similar to Blue Anemone but has even narrower blue petals which are hairless beneath.
Yellow Anemone (Anemone ranunculoides) which has yellow flowers but they are smaller than those of Wood Anemone and somewhat like Buttercups.
Japanese Anemone (Anemone × hybrida)
PROTOANEMONIN & ANEMONIN
Protoanemonin, a pentadienoic lactone, is present in the sap of all members of the Buttercup Family as an inert glycoside called Ranunculin. When in contact with the skin, enzymes release the Protoanemonin, an irritant which causes a strong allergic reaction resulting in erythema and blistering of the skin. Protoanemonin is strongly anti-bacterial and causes paralysation of the CNS. The protoanemonin dimerizes into anemonin on drying the plant.
The sap of Wood Anemone, amongst some other members of the Buttercup Familyand Pasque Flower, also contains the toxic compound Anemonin, which when tasted results in a burning sensation in the mouth. Ingesting Wood Anemone can induce nausea, tingling, numbness, vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, heart attack and death; symptoms similar to that of aconite poisoning from Monk's-hood, although not as poisonous. It has found possible use in medicine for skin and nervous disorders and eye problems. The anemonin dissipates on drying the plant. Note that anemonin consists of two fused protoanemonin molecules, and is thus a (near) dimer (albeit one with two extra hydrogen atoms). It also has a strained cyclobutane ring at its heart. In a preparation with
Quinine sulfate, anemonin is used to treat thalassemia. In mice, the LD50 of Anemonin is 150mg/kg. Anemonin hydrolyzes in air to a relatively harmless dicarboxylic acid.
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