It is easy to have a backlog of plants waiting for their posting at this time of year with so many new flowers opening every day so here is one that has been waiting a few weeks. But, in its defence, it is still in bloom. It is a plant I picked up several weeks ago at the Garden Show Ireland and I was intrigued rather than blown away since it was a new one on me. I have a great fondness for rather insignificant woodland plants that really have a poor chance in my dry soil in the East Midlands but at least it means they probably won’t be invasive! Anemone trifolia is, to all intents and purposes, very similar to the native wood anemone (A. nemorosa), but there are certain differences. The most obvious is that the leaves are divided into just three leaflets, not more as in A. nemorosa, the common wood anemone. The basal leaves have three leaflets but on the flowering stems there is a whorl of three to five leaves, all with three leaflets. And above this is a solitary, pure white flower, rather smaller than in A. nemorosa from my observations, and I don’t think there are any varieties with pink or lavender pigments. So this is a rather demure plant. I was struck by the silvering in the centre of some of the leaves and this is what convinced me to part with money – it is subtle but it is there! Another difference is that the leaves do not die down in midsummer but should remain till autumn which makes this creeping perennial a slightly more effective ground cover – but we will see.
It is curious in having a very disjunct distribution in the wild. Unlike the common wood anemone, A. trifolia is only found in three definite places: the Pyrenees, the southern Alps and the south eastern Carpathians. This is very odd and it is thought that it is a very ancient species that has been obliterated from the areas in between and hangs on as a remnant of a more ancient vegetation in these three areas. And there is another mystery. It is also found in one small population in southern Finland. Why is it there, so far north from the other areas? It is thought that it may have been introduced and perhaps by J.P. Norrlin, who was Professor of Botany at Helsinki University who had a summer home close to the first discovery of the plant in Finland. However it got there it has obviously found conditions to its liking. And it suggests that it is at least very hardy!
There are two subspecies: subsp. trifolia has blue anthers and is said to be a calcicole while subsp. albida has white anthers and is calcifuge. I am sure mine has white anthers which is a bother since it is going into neutral soil so we will see how it gets on.
My plant is still in its pot which is packed with quite dense foliage so I think this is going to be a good solid ground cover as long as I do not put it somewhere too dry.