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Adonis vernalis

Adonis vernalis

Adonis is one of those odd genuses of the family ranunculacaea that murkily sits amongst paeonia, anemone, and ranunculus. The only 2 we grow are A. amurensis, a species from Eastern Siberia, and A. vernalis, which has a wide, though limited distribution throughout Europe. Our original plants are from Czech origin seed (Moravia), and produced ~ 50 plants. These have been raised in an ordinary garden bed - rich, loamy soils (think wheat land) are favoured and soon the clumps of black, rather thick roots with relatively few smaller branches, developed. In early April, when the ground has thawed, large flower buds will boldly poke through the winter debris that still remains, and in the space of a week or 2, the large yellow cups of flowers will emerge on short stems - much welcome treat for the bees that are out foraging in the cold bright air. As the days lengthen and warm, the leaves and stems emerge growing eventually to ~ 20 cm in height and carrying the flowers with them upward - another kind of resurrection plant.

Planted thickly, as our group is, one can imagine them growing on a Czech hillside with pasturing cattle or sheep nearby, much like the photos of wild paeonia that grow in Chinese grasslands. One might ask, are they grazed? That I can't answer for sure, but suspect that since the plant is closely related to paeonia and contains alkaloids, probably not. The seeds which develop through June are held in the open in a tight cluster. Large like anemone seeds, they ripen and fall near the base of the plants. I have collected these and sown them, but find that the best germination is to leave them where they fall and dig the plants later as they mature. The seedlings resent transplanting - DO NOT DISTURB ! Plants go dormant in September and at this time can be dug and left bare-root much like peonies. Replanted anytime in the fall, they quickly re-establish and will bloom next spring. Propagating in pots is less successful and they resent disturbance when in active growth in the spring. An easy plant to grow, not so easy to acquire, as it resents extreme domestication.

(September 2009)

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