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U.S. Forest Service

Plant of the Week

Anemone caroliniana range map. Anemone caroliniana range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Anemone caroliniana flower. Carolina Anemone (Anemone caroliniana) flower

Anemone caroliniana leaves and plant stem. Carolina Anemone (Anemone caroliniana) leaves and plant stem

Anemone caroliniana habitat - lush green prarie. Carolina Anemone (Anemone caroliniana) habitat

Carolina Anemone (Anemone caroliniana)

By Christopher David Benda

Carolina anemone may be the prettiest species in the Anemone genus, and it belongs to the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). “Anemone” refers to the God of the winds. Anemos, and many plants in this genus are called “windflower,” referring to the light, fluffy seeds produced by this plant that are dispersed by the wind. Others suggest that the flowers open in the spring wind. According to Greek mythology, Zephyr, the god of the west wind, was infatuated with a nymph named Anemone. Zephyr’s wife Flora was angered by this so she turned Anemone in to a flower that would open when wooed by Boeeas, the god of the north wind. The specific epithet “caroliniana” refers to this species being described in the Carolina region.

This plant is about a foot tall, but has a relatively large flower. Like a lot of flowers in the buttercup family, the flowers have no petals. All of the colorful, petal-like rays are actually sepals. Interestingly, this species does not have a consistent number of sepals, nor is their color consistent. Flowers can have up to twenty sepals surrounded by numerous yellow stamens, ranging in color from pure white to deep blue, and differing in length. The fruiting head is cylindrical and woolly.

The palmately compound leaves are primarily basal, on a long stalk, and with a whorl of three leafy bracts, which are further divided into three lobes. The stem arises from a tuber, and any leaves that occur on the stem are few and sessile, that is, they attach directly to the stem.

This is a species that mostly occurs in the central United States, and it is rare in the Southeast. It prefers dry open habitats like prairies, rocky glades, and barrens. It is not particularly common throughout its range, though it may be overlooked due to the short blooming time of the plant and the short lifespan of the flowers.

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