Anemone nemorosa

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

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22nd April 2008, Near Pendleton, Clitheroe, Lancs Photo: © RWD
A woodland ride of Wood Anemone

2nd April 2004, Bamford, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Note Lesser Celandine interloper.

27th April 2013, Blackleach Resr, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD

2nd April 2004, Bamford, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers only rarely fully open face-up.

21st April 2006, Seathwaite, Borrowdale. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are mostly facing away from the wind, half-closed, sometimes purple-tinged and about 1cm across.

3rd April 2009, Glasson Dock Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Photo: © RWD
Each flower stems from a 3-way branch of leaves.

19th April 2007, Llangollen Canal, Chirk. Photo: © RWD
Only rarely facing skywards when sunny. This specimen has six petals. The leaves, of which there are nominally three, have deeply cut lobes giving the appearance of many more.

10th May 2008, River Ribble. Photo: © RWD
The variation in number of petals is considerable; this flower has seven.

28th April 2011, River Ribble, Clitheroe. Photo: © RWD
Cream coloured polled, and a centre like a silly pointed greenish hat.

27th April 2013, Blackleach Resr, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Leaves appear roughly palmate, but actually are trifoliate and much divided.


20th May 2013, Dale Dike Reservoir, High Bradfield, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Sometimes the flowers have a mauve tinge, especially on the rear of the petals, even amongst totally white specimens.

20th May 2013, Dale Dike Reservoir, High Bradfield, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Mauve and white flowers together in the same clump. This whole field in this valley was covered in patches of mauve plus white Wood Anemones; the first time your Author has ever found mauve coloured specimens in 10 years of flower spotting.

20th May 2013, Dale Dike Reservoir, High Bradfield, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
A mauve specimen, the green centre turning to fruit. Apparently the pinkish hue is a sign that they are about to lose their petals.

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:

  • 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)
and several less frequent others lacking a common name.


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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Anemone nemorosa

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

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