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Winterling (Eranthis hyemalis)

Winterling ( Eranthis hyemalis )

Order : Buttercups (Ranunculales)
Family : Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)
Subfamily : Ranunculoideae
Tribe : Cimicifugeae
Genre : Winterlings ( Eranthis )
Type : Winterling
Scientific name
Eranthis hyemalis
( L. ) Salisb.

The winterling ( Eranthis hyemalis ) is a species of the genus of the winterling ( Eranthis ) within the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). It is a popular plant in gardens and parks and is one of the first flowers in spring. The generic name Eranthis comes from the Greek and is composed of the terms he for spring and anthos for blossom. The specific epithet hyemalis is of Latin origin, means winter and, like the generic name, refers to the early flowering period.


Subterranean plant parts
Illustration of the Winterling from Flora of Germany, Austria and Switzerland , 1885

Vegetative characteristics

The winterling grows as a perennial herbaceous plant and reaches heights of 5 to 20 centimeters. A spherical tuber lying in the earth , which is formed from the hypocotyl , serves as a storage and persistence organ . With regard to his way of life, he is therefore one of the geophytes . The basal leaves arise individually from the tuber, whereby usually only one leaf is developed per inflorescence stem. They are long-stemmed, have a round shape and are 3-7 parts. They usually appear after the flowering period.

Generative characteristics

The flowering period extends in early spring from February to March. The radially symmetrical and hermaphrodite flowers stand individually at the end of a relatively thick, hairless, green to red-brown stalk , which is surrounded by lower leaves at the base . Close to each flower is a covering of three whorled, slit bracts , which is also known as an involucre. Functionally, they correspond to the non-existent calyx and thus take over its protective function for the developing flower. The perigone usually consists of six, less often five to eight, equally shaped, shiny yellow bracts . They are narrow-egg-shaped and mostly with entire margins. Its length measures 10 to 15 (22) millimeters, the flower diameter is about 2.5 centimeters. About 17 to 38 (average 29) stamens are arranged in a spiral on the elongated flower axis. They are shorter than the bracts. Between the bracts and the stamens there are usually six stalked, bag-shaped and double-lipped nectar leaves about 6 mm long . The four to eight carpels are not grown ( chorikarpes gynoceum ). The short stylus closes off a scar .

Analogous to the number of carpels, after successful fertilization, four to eight brown follicles are formed per flower, which are connected to one another and are thus grouped together in a collective follicle. The fruit stalk is up to 10 millimeters long. The follicles, which are billed by the remains of the stylus, measure up to 15 millimeters when ripe. They contain several brown and somewhat angular seeds, about 2.5 millimeters long.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 16.


Way of life

As with all spring geophytes, the above-ground parts of the plant move in towards summer. The plant survives until it sprouts in the coming year thanks to the tuber lying in the ground, in which the nutrients for this are stored.

Flower biology

The first flower formation occurs 3 to 5 years after sowing. We are dealing with a spring bloomer and a snow bloomer. Investigations showed that drops in temperature and snowfall at the beginning of the flowering period inhibited the opening of new flowers, but did not damage the flowers. From an ecological point of view, these are homogeneous "nectar-bearing disc flowers". The flowers are only open when the sun is shining; in the evening they close at 7 p.m. or earlier. The opening and closing of the flowers is a temperature-dependent growth process; there is a so-called thermonastia . Pollinators are flies , but especially bees and bumblebees . The nectar is only accessible to the latter, because it requires at least a 2 mm long trunk. The scent is given off by the nectar leaves and stamens. Also, self-pollination is possible, but it is not very successful. The winterling is one of the first plant species to provide nectar and pollen each year. Studies in Poland showed that around 1.23 mg of nectar is produced per flower and that it has a sugar concentration of around 72%. If the temperature rises to 10 to 12 ° C on sunny winter days, the first bee approaches can be observed on the flowers.

Propagation Biology

Fruit cluster with ripe, open follicles

Fruit ripening is from May to June. The follicles are water-repellent on the inside, and when opened they represent a shovel-shaped structure. Since the flower stem is very elastic, the seeds are thrown out when raindrops hit it (there is a rain ballist) and then through the rainwater (as a rain wash) spread out, in heavy rain a throwing distance of 40 cm and more is possible. The last seeds are scattered when the dry, whole stems are blown by the wind. The embryos in the seeds only develop after they have been scattered. The seeds are cold germs . Vegetative reproduction can take place in culture by dividing the tubers.

Winterlings in February
Extensive stock of winterlings in the Rautal near Jena (beginning of March)


The original homeland of the winterling stretches from southeast France via Italy and Hungary to Bulgaria and Turkey , where the winterling grows mainly in damp deciduous forests and in bushes and vineyards. In Western and Central Europe as well as in North America, the winterling is a naturalized neophyte .

In Central Europe it occurs locally in vineyards or in sparse bushes, for example in Thuringia near Jena , several times in Baden-Württemberg and in the Swiss Jura near Solothurn ; at the places mentioned, it sometimes forms larger populations. Otherwise it has occasionally erupted inconsistently from the culture and thus grows in Central Germany from the Rhineland to Saxony, whereby then usually only a few plants can be found in the vicinity of gardens. The winterling is therefore considered a stinzen plant in Germany .

The winterling thrives best on nutrient-rich, loose loam soils and more in partial shade than in full light.

In Central Europe it is a characteristic species of the association Weinberg Lauch -Gesellschaft ( Geranio-Allietum ) in Association of fumitory - Spurge providers ( Fumario-Euphorbion ), but also comes in companies of the order Prunetalia (bushes and hedges) ago. In Southeastern Europe it is a species of the alluvial forest ( Alno-Ulmion ) and oak-hornbeam forests ( Carpinion betuli ) associations.

The use of the winterling as an ornamental plant in the garden began in the second half of the 16th century. From herbal books we know that it was already cultivated in 1588 by Joachim Camerarius in his garden in Nuremberg . Camerarius had brought this plant back from a trip to Italy. In the first three decades of the 17th century the winterling was listed in the plant registers of various gardens. This plant species became popular when large landscaped parks came into fashion towards the end of the 18th century . The winterling was well suited for transplanting in spacious meadows. This ornamental plant overgrown from parks, in climatically favored areas it spread strongly.


The first publication was in 1753 by Carl von Linné in Species Plantarum , 1, p. 557. The new combination to Eranthis hyemalis (L.) Salisb. was published in 1807 by the English botanist Richard Anthony Salisbury in Transactions of the Linnean Society of London , Volume 8, p. 304. Other synonyms for Eranthis hyemalis (L.) Salisb. are: Cammarum hyemale (L.) Greene , Eranthis × tubergenii Hoog , Eranthis cilicicus Schott & Kotschy .


The winterling is poisonous when eaten, especially the tubers are highly poisonous.

The main active ingredients are cardiac glycosides from the bufadienolide group , eranthin A and B.

Symptoms of poisoning are nausea, vomiting, colic , irregular, slowed pulse , cardiac insufficiency, visual disturbances, shortness of breath, and if the dose is lethal, cardiac arrest in collapse .

Common names

The other German-language trivial names exist or existed for the Winterling : Ackerwurz, Knobelblumen and Knoble.

More photos


  • Heinz-Dieter Krausch : Imperial crown and peonies red ... - Discovery and introduction of our garden flowers . Dölling and Galitz Verlag, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-935549-23-7 .
  • Angelika Lüttig, Juliane Kasten: Rose hip & Co - blossoms, fruits and spread of European plants . Fauna Verlag, Nottuln 2003, ISBN 3-935980-90-6 .
  • Oskar Sebald, Siegmund Seybold, Georg Philippi (Hrsg.): The fern and flowering plants of Baden-Württemberg. Volume 1: General Part, Special Part (Pteridophyta, Spermatophyta): Lycopodiaceae to Plumbaginaceae. 2nd, supplemented edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-8001-3322-9 .
  • Dietmar Aichele, Heinz-Werner Schwegler: The flowering plants of Central Europe. Volume 2, 2nd revised edition. Franckh Kosmos Verlag, 2000, ISBN 3-440-08048-X .
  • Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany and neighboring countries. The most common Central European species in portrait. 7th, corrected and enlarged edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-494-01424-1 .
  • Lutz Roth, Max Daunderer, Kurt Kormann: Poison Plants - Plant Poisons. Occurrence, effect, therapy, allergic and phototoxic reactions. With a special section about poisonous animals. 6th, revised edition, special edition. Nikol, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-86820-009-6 .

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Eranthis hyemalis (L.) Salisb., Winterling. In:
  2. a b c Annette Höggemeier: Eranthis hyemalis - Winterling , Yearbook Bochumer Botanischer Verein, 2011, p. 199ff.
  3. Eckehart J. Jäger, Klaus Werner (Ed.): Exkursionsflora von Deutschland. Founded by Werner Rothmaler. 18th, edited edition. Volume 2. Vascular Plants: Baseline, Spectrum, Heidelberg a. a. 2011, ISBN 978-3-8274-1606-3 , pp. 313f.
  4. ^ JC Röhling and WDC Koch: Deutschlands Flora , Volume 4, Verlag Friedrich Wilmans , Frankfurt am Main, 1833, p. 196.
  5. ^ A b c Jürgen Damboldt, Walter Zimmermann : Ranunculaceae. In: Gustav Hegi : Illustrated flora of Central Europe. Volume 3, Part 3: Dicotyledones. Part 1: (Nymphaeaceen, Ceratophyllaceen, Magnoliaceae, Paeoniaceen, Ranunculaceae). 2., completely reworked. Ed. Carl Hanser, Munich 1974, pp. 81–356.
  6. a b c d Krystyna Rysiak, Beata Żuraw: The biology of flowering of Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis (L.) SALISB.) In Acta Agrobotanica Vol. 64 (2) 2011, pp. 25-32. doi: 10.5586 / aa.2011.014
  7. a b Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas. 8th edition. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 . P. 396.
  8. ^ Linnaeus scanned in at in 1753 .
  9. ^ Linné's herbarium evidence.
  10. Eranthis hyemalis at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, accessed October 17, 2015.
  11. ^ Georg August Pritzel , Carl Jessen : The German folk names of plants. New contribution to the German linguistic treasure. Philipp Cohen, Hannover 1882, p. 142 ( ).

Web links

Commons : Winterling ( Eranthis hyemalis )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files