Many people think of crocuses when they picture the first flowers of the year, but winter aconite blooms even sooner. In fact, blossoms may appear as early as February in some areas, depending on conditions. Winter aconite can be found in climates as low as United States Department of Agriculture Zone 4. The plant can withstand winter temperatures as low as -30 oF, making it quite the hardy species.
Winter aconite prefers partial shade such as that found in and around forests. They grow as tall as six inches and are usually found in clumps of many flowers. They bloom through April before going dormant during the summer and fall. Since the plant grows fairly low to the ground, many gardeners use it as a border plant. However, it should not be planted in areas where pets and children often play, as the entire plant (Especially the tuber) is poisonous.
In the northern US, it takes much longer for flowers to appear after winter. But plants like winter aconite give a hint of spring, even with snow still on the ground.