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Winter Aconite

Eranthis hyemalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, parks, roadsides, scrub, woodland.

Yellow, 6 petals
Cup-shaped flowers, up to 3cm wide. The flowers have large, deeply cut, leafy bracts at their bases.
Follicles which contain the seeds.
A perennial with deeply cut, glossy, hairless basal leaves. Throughout the British Isles, Winter Aconite is most common in the east of England and Scotland.
Other Names:
Winter Hellebore, Winter Wolf's Bane.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Eranthis hyemalis, also known as the winter aconite or winter buttercup, is a small perennial plant that is native to Europe. It belongs to the buttercup family and is known for its bright yellow flowers that bloom in early spring. The plant has a low, spreading habit and is often used as a groundcover in gardens. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Eranthis hyemalis prefers partial shade to full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The plant is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as slugs and snails. Eranthis hyemalis is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Winter Aconite, also known as Eranthis hyemalis, is a beautiful and hardy perennial flower that is native to Europe and Asia. These bright yellow flowers are one of the first signs of spring, often blooming as early as January in milder climates. They are a welcome sight after the long, dark days of winter and bring a touch of cheer to any garden.

The flowers of Winter Aconite are small and cup-shaped, measuring about 2 cm in diameter. They are surrounded by a ruff of green leaves that resemble a collar. The leaves are glossy and dark green, and they remain evergreen throughout the winter. The flowers are held on short stems that rise above the leaves.

Winter Aconite is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, and is related to other popular garden flowers such as Anemone, Aquilegia, and Delphinium. The genus name, Eranthis, means "spring flower" in Greek, and the species name, hyemalis, refers to the winter blooming time.

Winter Aconite is an easy to grow plant that requires well-drained soil and partial shade. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but prefers a rich, moist soil. The plant is also hardy and will survive in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. They naturalize well, and can form large colonies in the garden.

Winter Aconite is a perfect choice for naturalizing in woodlands, along walkways, or in rock gardens. They can also be planted in front of shrubs or as a ground cover for early spring color. They also look great when planted in a large container or mixed with other early blooming bulbs such as crocus or snowdrops.

Another great feature of Winter Aconite is that it is deer and rabbit resistant, making it a great choice for gardens where these animals may be a problem. It also requires very little maintenance once established, making it a low-maintenance option for busy gardeners.

One thing to keep in mind when planting Winter Aconite is to plant them at the correct depth. The tubers should be planted about 2-3 inches deep and about 3 inches apart. They should be planted in the fall, about 4-6 weeks before the first hard frost. This will allow the tubers enough time to establish roots before the ground freezes.

Winter Aconite is also a great choice for cut flowers. The bright yellow flowers and glossy green leaves make a great addition to any bouquet. They also have a long vase life, making them a great option for floral arrangements.

Another great thing about Winter Aconite is that it attracts pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects to the garden. These pollinators are vital for the health of the ecosystem and for the pollination of other plants in the garden. By planting Winter Aconite, you are not only adding beauty to your garden, but you are also providing a valuable food source for pollinators.

Winter Aconite also makes a great companion plant for other spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, and crocuses. They complement each other well, and the bright yellow flowers of the Winter Aconite provide a nice contrast to the other colors in the garden. They also make a great companion plant for other spring-blooming perennials such as Hellebores and Primroses.

In terms of pests and diseases, Winter Aconite is relatively resistant to most problems. However, in areas with high humidity or poor air circulation, they may be susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew or rust. To prevent this, make sure to plant them in well-draining soil and in an area with good air circulation.

In conclusion, Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is a must-have for any gardener looking for an early spring bloomer. They are easy to grow, low-maintenance, and deer and rabbit resistant. They also attract pollinators and make a great companion plant for other spring-blooming bulbs and perennials. With their bright yellow flowers and glossy green leaves, Winter Aconite is sure to bring a smile to your face and delight to your garden every spring.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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