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Pheasant's Eye

Adonis annua

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, meadows, roadsides, scrub, wasteland.

Red, many petals
Dark crimson, poppy-like, cup-shaped flowers, black in the centre. Flowers are about 2cm in diameter. Pollinated by flies, bees and beetles.
The fruits appear in an elongated head. The seeds ripen in July.
An annual flower which appears around the perimeter of cornfields. Pheasant's Eye is often seen growing alongside other flowers such as Corn Chamomile and Corncockle. The leaves are feathery and 3-pinnate.
Other Names:
Adonis' Flower, Annual Adonis, Autumn Adonis, Autumn Pheasant's-eye, Blooddrops, Red Chamomile, Red Morocco, Rose-a-ruby, Soldiers-in-green, Summer Pheasant's Eye.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Adonis annua, commonly known as pheasant's eye or annual adonis, is a species of annual flowering plant in the Ranunculaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and can be found in habitats such as meadows, fields, and waste ground. The plant has bright yellow, cup-shaped flowers with a dark red center, which resemble the eye of a pheasant. It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens, particularly cottage gardens and wildflower meadows. It is not known to have any medicinal use, it's not recommended for any use.


Pheasant's Eye, also known as Adonis annua, is a beautiful and delicate flowering plant that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is a member of the buttercup family and is known for its bright red flowers and feathery green foliage. In this blog post, we will explore the unique characteristics of Pheasant's Eye and discuss how it has been used throughout history.


Pheasant's Eye is a small, annual plant that typically grows to be between 10 and 30 centimeters tall. It has finely divided, fern-like leaves that are a bright green color. The plant produces bright red, saucer-shaped flowers that are about 2 centimeters in diameter. The flowers have a dark central disk and are surrounded by numerous bright yellow stamens. Pheasant's Eye blooms in late spring to early summer and can often be found growing in open fields, meadows, and along roadsides.


Throughout history, Pheasant's Eye has been used for a variety of purposes. In ancient Greece, the plant was used to treat a range of ailments, including insomnia, fever, and headaches. In traditional Chinese medicine, Pheasant's Eye was used to stimulate circulation and alleviate pain.

Today, Pheasant's Eye is primarily used as an ornamental plant. Its bright red flowers make it a popular choice for gardens and borders. The plant is also sometimes used in wildflower seed mixes, as it is easy to grow from seed and can quickly establish itself in open areas.


Pheasant's Eye is a relatively easy plant to grow, and it thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. The plant is typically grown from seed, which can be sown directly in the ground in the fall or early spring. Pheasant's Eye does not transplant well, so it is best to sow the seeds directly where you want the plant to grow. Once established, the plant requires little care other than regular watering.


It is important to note that while Pheasant's Eye is a beautiful plant, it can be toxic if ingested. All parts of the plant contain toxic compounds, including adonitoxin and adonidine, which can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and even heart failure if consumed in large quantities. As such, it is important to keep Pheasant's Eye away from children and pets and to handle it with care when planting or pruning.

Pheasant's Eye is a beautiful and unique plant that has been valued for its medicinal properties and ornamental qualities for centuries. While it should be treated with caution due to its toxic properties, it is a relatively easy plant to grow and can bring a burst of bright color to any garden or meadow.

Some Facts about Pheasant's Eye

Pheasant's Eye, also known as Adonis annua, has a rich history and has been used for various purposes throughout the years. Here are some interesting facts about this beautiful plant:

  • The name "Pheasant's Eye" comes from the distinctive black spot in the center of the flower, which resembles the eye of a pheasant.

  • Pheasant's Eye has been associated with the Greek myth of Adonis, who was a handsome youth loved by the goddess Aphrodite. When Adonis died, the goddess mourned him, and where her tears fell, the plant is said to have grown.

  • In ancient times, Pheasant's Eye was used as a love charm, and it was believed that carrying a piece of the plant could attract a lover.

  • Pheasant's Eye is not just toxic to humans and animals; it can also be harmful to other plants. The plant contains chemicals that inhibit the growth of nearby plants, which can be useful in preventing weed growth but can also make it difficult to grow other plants nearby.

  • Pheasant's Eye is an important food source for some species of bees, butterflies, and other insects. The bright red flowers attract these pollinators, which help to ensure the plant's survival.

  • The medicinal properties of Pheasant's Eye are still being studied today, and the plant is being investigated for its potential use in treating certain types of cancer.

In conclusion, Pheasant's Eye is a fascinating and beautiful plant with a long and varied history. While it should be handled with care due to its toxic properties, it is a valuable addition to any garden or meadow and is sure to attract a range of pollinators.

Some More Facts

Pheasant's Eye, also known as Adonis annua, has some interesting cultural and literary associations:

  • Pheasant's Eye appears in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. In Act IV, Ophelia sings a song that includes the lines, "And there is pansies, that's for thoughts; And there's fennel for you, and columbines: There's rue for you; and here's some for me: we may call it herb of grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy: I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died: they say he made a good end". Some interpret the "daisy" in this passage to refer to Pheasant's Eye.

  • Pheasant's Eye is also mentioned in the poem "Adonis" by the English poet and playwright William Morris. In the poem, Morris describes the plant's "fiery flowers" and "golden-hearted leaves," and compares it to the Greek myth of Adonis.

  • In Iran, Pheasant's Eye is known as "Gul-i-Surkh" and is used in traditional medicine to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions.

  • In some parts of Europe, Pheasant's Eye is still used as a traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including menstrual cramps, digestive problems, and insomnia.

  • Pheasant's Eye is also used in some perfumes and fragrances, due to its distinctive scent.

Overall, Pheasant's Eye is a fascinating plant with a rich cultural and literary history. Whether appreciated for its medicinal properties, its use in perfumes and fragrances, or simply for its striking beauty, this plant is sure to continue to captivate and inspire for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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