Amur adonis (Adonis amurensis) and its ties to the namesake god are a good match. This plant is as handsome as any perennial, and once seen in bloom, its perfection is almost impossible to resist. Amur adonis is as ephemeral as the god Adonis, and soon after blooming, the plant returns underground to await the next late winter or early spring. This plant is native to the hills of the Japanese islands and China along the Amur River, from which it derives its species name.
A member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, the flowers have waxy, heavy, bright yellow petals. The 1- to 2-inch, large-for-the-plant blooms emerge and open first. Just as the flowers fully mature, bright green, divided, feather-like foliage appears to form a fluffy collar around each individual blossom. The blooms are hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees, flies, and beetles. Reaching a height and width of about a foot, Amur adonis quickly forms a very well-behaved, open clump in the garden. It thrives in full sun or light shade in USDA Zones 3 to 7, and the blooms react to cold or cloudy days by closing and waiting for sunshine and warmer weather to return. It's a delightful choice for sun-dappled woodland areas, rock gardens, and cultivated beds that are humus-rich, moist, and well-drained.