WINTER ACONITE Eranthis hyemalis

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It is a tuberous-rooted herbaceous perennial growing to 15 cm (6 in), with large (2–3 cm (1–1 in)), yellow, cup-shaped flowers held above a collar of 3 leaf-like bracts, appearing in late winter and early spring. The six sepals are bright yellow and petaloid, and the petals are in the form of tubular nectaries. There are numerous stamens and usually six unfused carpels.

As a spring ephemeral plant, its life cycle exploits the deciduous woodland canopy, flowering at the time of maximum sunlight reaching the forest floor, then completely dying back to its underground tuber after flowering.

The plant is valued in cultivation as one of the earliest of all flowers to appear. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

All parts of the plant are poisonous when consumed by humans and other mammals.

Type: Hardy Perennial

Hardiness zones: 3-7

Height: 10 cm

Location: Shade or part shade

Seeds per pack: 5

Germination: Surface sow onto moist well-drained seed compost. Seeds must be kept moist at all times, and at  18-22°C (64-71F) for 8 weeks. Then cold stratify for 7-8 weeks (fridge temperatures are ideal) then return to warmth 10-12°C for germination. Germination should then occur within a few days. Can be outdoors in autumn, where natural winter cold should offer the conditions required for germination the following spring.

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