Adonanthe vernalis (L.) Spach
Adoniastrum vernale (L.) Schur
Adonis dahurica Ledeb. ex Rchb.
Adonis helleborus Crantz
Adonis parviflora Janka ex Nyman
Adonis pratensis Ledeb.
Anemone consiligo Baill.
Chrysocyathus vernalis (L.) Holub
Common Name: Pheasant's Eye
Flowering plants in native habitat at Heeseberg (NSG), Landkreis Helmstedt
Photograph by: Bearbirds
Adonis vernalis is a herbaceous perennial producing a tight cluster of stems up to 20cm tall at flowering from a short, stout rootstock. The stems lengthen to 40cm as the seed develops[
The plant is harvested from the wild for medicinal use - though this should be discouraged because of its rarity. It is also cultivated for medicinal use and, because it is attractive, is often grown in the ornamental garden.
This species is rather rare in the wild, so only cultivated plants should be harvested for medicinal use[
A toxic principle is present in very small quantities in the plant[
]. It is poorly absorbed so poisoning is unlikely[
Europe - Russian Federation, south to Spain, east to Ukraine and Bulgaria; Asia - Russian Federation from Ciscaucasia to eastern Siberia.
Sunny grassy hills on dry calcareous soils[
]. A rare plant in most of its range, it has legal protection from gathering in most countries[
|Pollinators||Bees, Flies, Beetles
Grows well in any ordinary garden soil that is not too heavy[
]. Prefers a moist well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. Easily grown in a very well-drained rather dry soil in sun or part shade[
]. Plants flower better when growing in a sunny position[
This plant is adored by slugs and is therefore very difficult to grow in the open garden where slugs are common[
A greedy plant inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[
Pheasant's eye has a long history of medicinal use and is still retained in the Pharmacopoeias of several European countries[
]. The plant contains cardiac glycosides similar to those found in the foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)[
]. These substances improve the heart's efficiency, increasing its output at the same time as slowing its rate[
]. It also has a sedative action and so is generally prescribed for patients whose hearts are beating too fast or irregularly[
]. The herb is not often prescribed, however, due to irregular absorption[
Under medical supervision, the plant is prepared in the form of a standardized extract and is then used in the treatment of mild heart failure, arrhythmia, nervous heart complaints, cramps, fever, and menstrual disorders.
The herb is cardiotonic, diuretic, sedative and vasoconstrictor[
]. It has sometimes been used internally as a cardiotonic with success where the better known foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) has failed - especially where there is also kidney disease[
]. The herb is also used in the treatment of low blood pressure and its strong diuretic action can be used to counter water retention[
It is included in many proprietary medicines, especially since its effects are not cumulative[
The plants are harvested every third year as they come into flower[
], they are dried for use in tinctures and liquid extracts[
]. The herb does not store well so stocks should be replaced every year[
Use with great caution[
], see the notes above on toxicity.
The plant is used in homeopathy as a treatment for angina[
Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or else it can be slow and erratic to germinate[
]. Sow the seed in partial shade in rich soil in late summer or early spring[
]. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the cold frame for their first season. Plant out when dormant in the autumn[
Division in early spring or in autumn. The divisions can be difficult to establish[
], so it is probably best to pot them up and keep them in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing away well.