- Name also: Windflower, Thimbleweed, Smell Fox
- Family: Buttercup Family – Ranunculaceae
- Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock long, creeping, with runners, brown.
- Height: 8–30 cm (3–12 in.). Stem unbranched, sparsely hairy–glabrous.
- Flower: Perianth regular (actinomorphic), white, often reddish outside or sometimes completely red (occasionally bluish or violet), 20–40 mm (0.8–1.6 in.) wide. Tepals 6–7, glabrous or sometimes with hairy base. (Sepals appear to be lacking – they are petaloid and regarded as tepals. Stamens dozens, yellow. Gynoecea many, with separate leaves. Flower usually solitary terminating stem.
- Leaves: Basal leaves 1–2, long-stalked, dying early. Stem leaves usually a trifoliolate whorl, short-stalked, light green, smaller than basal leaves. Blade usually with 3 leaflets; leaflets quite broad, further 2–3-lobed, lobes with toothed margins.
- Fruit: Elliptic, hairy, short-tipped, 4–5 mm (0.15–0.2 in.) long achene, several together. Infructescence nodding.
- Habitat: Young broad-leaved forests, forest margins, coppices, grazing lands, swamps, banks, ditch banks.
- Flowering time: (April–)May–June.
- Endangerment: Protected in the provinces of Oulu and Lapland.
When Mothers’ Day arrives in Finland at the beginning of May, the broad-leaved forest floors in the south of the country are a sea of wood anemones as nature comes back to life in all her glory. The time when the anemones flower is called the ‘spring aspect’ of the forest, meaning the time when tree leaves don’t yet cast a shadow on the forest floor. Wood anemone becomes rapidly rarer as one moves north, and already in northern Häme it only grows here and there. There are several separate stands in northern Finland on river banks and bog margins which are probably a legacy of the time when the climate was warmer than it is now and wood anemone was thus more widespread.
Wood anemone’s tepals often look slightly reddish, but there are also examples that are yellowish. There is also a blue-flowered form – and in Sweden there is even a form that has a violet blue centre but white outer parts. There is a form with multiple leaves and also plants whose petals are lobed liked leaves or even green. The flower contains no nectar, but it is fertilized by flies and beetles that find pollen to eat. The result of pollination is usually good and many seeds are produced. The achene has an oily appendage (elaiosome) that ants like and which promote the spread of the plant.
Anemone nemorosa x ranunculoides
Wood anemone can cross-breed with yellow wood anemone, producing the rare, suphur-yellow-flowered (flowers 1–3) A. nemorosa x ranunculoides, which is slightly larger than its parent plants. It is sterile and thus does not reproduce sexually.