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 (and in rare occasions eight, nine or ten) 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.
Native to Europe - woods and fields close to it.
The plant contains poisonous chemicals that are toxic to animals including humans, but it has also been used as a medicine. All parts of the plant contain protoanemonin, which can cause severe skin and gastrointestinal irritation, burning mouth sensation, burning throat sensation, mouth ulcers, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bitter taste in mouth, blood in vomit.