Plant of the Month for May, 2012

 ranunculoides header

Anemone ranunculoides


 (ah-NEM-oh-nee ra-nun-kul-OY-deez)

General Information:

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, both native to 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.

ranunculoides full view

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.

ranunculoides close up

Anemone ranunculoides; photo by Robert Pavlis

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


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 is ripe

Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): rarely available

Sow immediately. The viability of these seeds is short or the species propagates best with fresh seed. Stored seed might be coaxed into germination with temperature cycling and patience.
Use repeated cycles of 20°C, then 4°C for 3 months each. Germination is very prolonged.
radicle develops at 4°C, leaf at 20°C
Robert Pavlis