Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa)

Anemone nemorosa; Wood Anemone, Windflower, Thimbleweed. 

In the Buttercup family: Ranunculaceae – another common name for the plant is Thimbleweed, because the seed heads look like a thimble.   

Last Wednesday (24/03), while walking a version of ‘Day Two’ of the Charming Chiltern itinerary – Historic Ashridge Estate, I found a patch of these flowers at Little Gaddesden near to the junction with Hudnall Lane, just before the scheduled lunch stop at the Bridgewater Arms. (Currently closed of course!). I expect to see the Anemones in my lane – Bullbeggars Lane – very soon, these ones were early.

Not rare nor threatened, the anemone is described as common but the woodland habitat in which they thrive is decreasing in size. 

anemone leaf
anemone flower

Aphrodite had a love affair with Adonis. When the Gods saw this, they killed him out of jealousy. Aphrodite wept for his death and the tears that came out of her eyes later grew into anemones. The meaning of anemone, from the Greek, is ‘the wind’s daughter’. The ‘petals’ are blown around in the warm Spring winds, which are just starting now, and forecast for next week. The wood anemone – another common name is Windflower, is the first of the wild looking, raggedy flowers to appear. The classic red poppy is the ultimate in untidiness and raggedness, but they will come much later.  Interestingly, sea anemones were named after the terrestrial anemones because some have very bright colours, but they also share another similar characteristic: one blows in the wind, the other in the currents.  

sea anemones

These below are photos of the flowers from 4th April 2020, around Potten End Berkhamsted. Above are the sea anemones and clown fish.  

As the name suggests, the plant grows in woodlands and flowers early (March-May), taking advantage of the sunlight before the canopy leaves shade the woodland floor. Often seen in patches, they grow in specific places, and have an underground rhizome system, which helps the colony grow in the same area. The stem is purple in colour and the leaves are basal, meaning that they grow from the bottom of the stem, like a dandelion.

The English Poet, John Payne, mentions the wood anemone in his poem March

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