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Pheasant's eye Adonis annua

The Adonis annua, with its scarlet flowers and feathery leaves, is thought to be an ancient introduction to Great Britain, once a common flower but now restricted to as little as 18 sites in southern and south-east England.

Known as the pheasant’s eye, as the flower colour matches that of the bird, the species occurs in cultivated land, mainly in the margins and corners of fields. A winter annual, it germinates at the end of autumn, with flowers appearing in June and July. There are 5-8 red petals, which are blackish towards the base, and the plant grows to about 40cm high.

The Adonis annua is now rare in the wild, mainly due to the increased use of agricultural herbicides, and the sowing of cereal crops in autumn my also hinder the germination of this species.

The Millennium Seed Bank safeguards practically the entire British flora in its vaults, including Adonis annua. In addition, the plant is part of the UK Native Seed Hub, a project at Wakehurst to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of native plants and seeds available for conservation and habitat restoration in the UK.

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