Plant Common Name
Winter Pheasant's Eye
Similar to the Asian Adonis amurensis but larger overall and better adapted to drought, winter pheasant's eye also has a broader area of distribution existing across much of Eurasia. In the wild, this spring ephemeral inhabits dry fields, roadsides and montane grasslands. Its golden flowers light up the landscape in late winter or spring and disappear by late spring. Occasionally, plants escape from cultivation; wild populations are known to exist in New York State's Westchester County.
Rising from slow spreading, stout rhizomes, winter pheasant's eye produces flower buds in late winter surrounded by clasping dark green to reddish green foliage that has yet to unfold. The glossy, golden flowers make most of the early season sun--opening when the sun's rays are upon them and closing at night or on cloudy days. Bees are the primary pollinators. The feathery leaves rise and unfold to bright green as the flowers fade. Post-pollination, small, dry, brown achene fruits are produced. These fall to the ground and occasionally germinate. By late spring, the foliage dies back for the season.
Full to partial sun and well-drained upland soil with a neutral pH are ideal for winter pheasant's eye. Be sure to plant this true ephemeral among later blooming perennials that will fill in the gaps they leave behind. Long established specimens will spread to create pleasing floral clumps. Plant with Siberian squill and other scilla.