Anemone ranunculoides

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Robert Pavlis

An absolutely gorgeous yellow wood anemone. This plant has received the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society, an award that is given to special garden worthy plants. It forms a tight low mat of ferny leaves and at the center of each leaf it produces a bright yellow flower. The flower has five to eight tepals (both petals and sepals look the same) and faces up producing a very showy display.

The common name ‘wood anemone’ is confusing since it is used to describe a number of plants, native to both North America and Europe. It is probably best not to use this term to describe any plant. Anemone ranunculoides is also called yellow anemone, yellow wood anemone and buttercup anemone.

Anemone ranunculoides; photo by Robert Pavlis
Anemone ranunculoides; photo by Robert Pavlis

Anemone ranunculoides can grow in fairly dry soil conditions making it ideal for planting under trees. On such a site the plant will go dormant in summer. If grown in wetter conditions, the leaves will remain green all summer.

A number of sources consider the plant to have a bulb, but the storage structure of the plant is more correctly called a rhizome (ie underground stem). The rhizome creeps just under the surface of the soil, expanding the size of the plant. In my experience, spreading is very slow, but some sources report faster spreading. It is not considered invasive.

Anemone nemorosa (also called wood anemone) is similar to A. ranunculoides but has slightly larger flowers which are usually white. Anemone × lipsiensis is a hybrid between these two species and has pale yellow flowers.

The name Anemone is derived from a Greek word, anemos, meaning wind. The genus is known as windflowers. Ranunculoides is derived from the Family name, Ranunculaceae.

Anemone ranunculoides; photo by Robert Pavlis
Anemone ranunculoides; photo by Robert Pavlis

Anemone ranunculoides

(ah-NEM-oh-nee ra-nun-kul-OY-deez)

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 15 cm (6 inches)

Bloom Time: early spring, soon after the snowdrops are finished

Natural Range: Central Europe

Habitat: deciduous forests, stream banks

Synonyms: Anemanthus ranunculoides, Anemone lutea

Cultivation of Anemone ranunculoides:

Light: part shade

Soil: prefers humus-rich, moist, clay soil,  pH: 6 – 7.5

Water: prefers a moist soil, but is draught tolerant especially in summer

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4a – 8b

Propagation: division in spring, comes true from seed. Plant seed as soon as it’s ripe.

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

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