Anemone nemorosa is an early-spring flowering plant in the genus Anemone in the family Ranunculaceae. Common names include (European*) wood anemone, windflower, (European*) thimbleweed and smell fox, an allusion to the musky smell of the leaves. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, growing in early spring from 5 to 15 cm tall.
(*American wood anemone is Anemone quinquefolia, a different species in the same genus. American thimbleweed, Rudbeckia laciniata, is an entirely unrelated plant.)
The plants start blooming soon after the foliage emerges from the ground. The leaves are divided into three segments and the flowers, produced on short stems, are held above the foliage with one flower per stem. They grow from underground root-like stems called rhizomes and the foliage dies back down by mid summer (summer dormant). The rhizomes spread just below the soil surface, forming long spreading clumps that grow quickly, contributing to its rapid spread in woodland conditions, where they often carpet large areas.
The flower is 2 cm diameter, with six or seven petal-like segments (actually tepals) with many stamens. In the wild the flowers are usually white, but may be pinkish, lilac, blue or yellow and often have a darker tint to the back of the 'petals'. The flowers lack both fragrance and nectar and it has been suggested by some authors that they are primarily self-pollinated, but it has also been demonstrated that they are pollinated by bees and other insects that visit the flowers to collect pollen (Shirreffs 1985).
Yellow wood anemone, Anemone ranunculoides, also known as the buttercup anemone, is a similar plant with slightly smaller flowers of rich yellow colouring.