Winter aconite

Family: Ranunculaceae
Botanical name: Eranthis

Eight species of winter aconite are mentioned in the literature. Only two of these, Eranthis hyemalis (from Southern Europe) and Eranthis cilicica, (from Turkey) are commonly cultivated. The botanical name of winter aconite  ‘Eranthis’ comes from the Greek meaning ‘spring flower’.

Since these species originated in a wooded habitat, they require a loose soil with sufficient humus. Soil that dries out quickly is less suitable, but it should drain easily during the winter. The tubers are small – about the size of a pea – and irregularly shape. They must be planted no later than September if they are to flower well the first year. Soaking the corms in lukewarm water for 24 hours prior to planting aids their development. The flowers are similar to buttercups and have very short stems. Characteristic of this plant are green involucel leaves that enclose the flower like a collar. The flowers of winter aconite open only when the sun shines, closing during dark weather. They can start flowering as early as February, sometimes when the snow is still on the ground.