Robin Hood, Scarlet and John

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Plant name
Folk name Robin Hood, Scarlet and John
Binomial name Anemone hortensis L or Anemone pavonina Lam ("Anemone latifolia vulgaris maxima versicolor")
First recorded 1665
Used where
Anemone latifolia; not the variety described by John Rea / Basilius Bessler, 1620,

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-06-11. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-05-23.

In 1665, John Rea, 'florist', i.e. expert in flowering plants, noted that a common species/variety of anemone which he referred to as Anemone latifolia vulgaris maxima versicolor was "by many Gentlewomen, and other as ignorant, called Robin Hood, Scarlet and John" (see Allusions section below.) This species or variety must currently be known under another Latin name, for a Google search for the exact form cited by John Rea yields only historical references. According to John H. Harvey Anemone latifolia should be identified with Anemone hortensis L or Anemone pavonina Lam.[1] The folk name 'Robin Hood, Scarlet and John' is obsolete.[2]


1665 - Rea, John - Flora

Anemone latifolia vulgaris maxima versicolor.

The common great double variable broad-leaved Anemone cometh up before Winter, with many something broad leaves, cut in on the sides and folding the edges, seldome lying smooth and plain, of a fresher green colour than many of those that follow, and a little hard in handling, as all this kind are, and therefore by some called Hard-leaf; from among these leaves riseth up one two or more stalks for flowers, according to the age and bigness of the roots, having about the middle of them some jaged [sic] leaves, as all the Anemones have; at the top of the stalks the flowers come forth, which are [p. 126:] large and double, consisting of many narrow long sharp-pointed leaves, the out-most whereof are broadest and green, with some stripes of Orenge-tawny, the inner leaves are smaller, less striped with green, and the middle leaves being wholly Orenge-tawny, turning inward, cover the head or button which is usual in the middle of the flowers of most of this kind; the root is tuberous, large and thick, of a blackish colour of the outside, and yellowish within: this common Anemone is by many Gentlewomen, and other as ignorant, called Robin Hood, Scarlet and John, and the Spanish marigold; there are two kinds thereof, the flowers of the one being more double and less green than the other.[3]


  • N.E.D., vol. VIII, pt. I, p. 736, s.n. Robin Hood, sb., 3 a.


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