- Family: Buttercup Family – Ranunculaceae
- Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock long, creeping, greyish white, with runners.
- Height: 15–30 cm (6–12 in.). Stem unbranched, to some extent glabrous, often purple red at base.
- Flower: Perianth regular (actinomorphic), white or pinkish, 30–43 mm (1.2–1.7 in.) across. Tepals 6–8, glabrous. Stamens many, white or bluish. Gynoecium separate, pistils many. Flower usually solitary terminating stem.
- Leaves: Basal leaves solitary, not next to flower stem, long-stalked, long-lived. Stem leaves 3-leaved in a whorl, short-stalked, dark green. Blade with 3 leaflets; leaflets lanceolate, entire, with serrated margins.
- Fruit: Elliptic, hairy, tipped by a short bristle, 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in.) long achene forming a cluster. Infructescence erect.
- Habitat: Broad-leaved forests and esker woods, especially on ridge slopes and hollows.
- Flowering time: May.
- Endangerment: Vulnerable, protected in all of Finland.
Three-leaved anemone’s natural area of distribution is very fragmented. This is thought to reflect the species’ long life and it is regarded as the oldest member of its group. Three-leaved anemone has three different centres of distribution in Eurasia: one in southwest Europe in the Pyrenees, another in central Europe in the southern Alps, and a third in the south-eastern Carpathians.
In 1929 a fourth stand of three-leaved anemone was discovered in the broadleaf forests of Vääksy, in Asikkala in Häme in southern Finland. More of the species was later found elsewhere in southern Häme. This flora in this area, the home of what is still the only known Nordic stand, has been quite thoroughly studied. No adequate reason has yet been found for why three-leaved anemone has spread to Finland. While it is of course possible that it has been spread naturally by migrating birds, it’s not very likely. Botanists suspect that the species was deliberately sown in Finland at one time, perhaps by the Helsinki University Professor of Botany J.P. Norrlin, who was interested in rare plants and who also had a summer villa close to the site of the first discovery. Species are cultivated overseas in gardens as ground cover and young plants have at least sometimes been brought to Finland. Wild angelica (A. sylvestris) from Europe and meadow anemone (A. canadensis, syn. Anemonidium canadense; also known as round-headed anemone, Canada anemone and crowfoot) from North America are also cultivated as ornamentals and they can escape in favourable conditions to try their luck in the wild.
Unlike our familiar wood anemone and yellow wood anemone, three-leaved anemone stays green until the autumn. Its leaves are dark green with three leaflets, but they are not lobed or large-toothed like its relatives; rather they are densely serrated.