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Wisconsin Plant of the Week

Anemone quinquefolia L.

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Common Name:

wood anemone


Wood anemone is a delicate native perennial in many habitats --  savannas, pine barrens, dry to swampy deciduous and mixed woodlands. Itís more light dependent than many woodland understory species and is seldom found where woods are mature enough to form a completely closed canopy.

A single white flower rises above the leaves on each plant.  Flowers usually have 5 petal-like sepals, with subtle bee-guides above, a pink tinge below, and white stamens.  Like most species in the buttercup family, Anemone have many pistils and stamens, and the outer flower parts fall off before the fruit matures.

Wood anemone flowers are similar to those other Anemone, but the species has distinctive leaves. Three whorled leaves attach to the stem with a thin red leaf-stalk or petiole.  Each leaf is divided into 3 parts, but as the species name notes, each leaf appears 5-parted since the divisions are deeply lobed. In the western part of its range, including Wisconsin, the red leaf stalks and leaves have fine hairs.

Wood anemone is one of the few species that can grow well under  walnut trees. Walnuts release juglone into the root zone, which is toxic to most plants.

  • Height: 5 to 15 cm (2 to 6 in)
  • Blooms: April to June
  • Origin of the name: Anemone, Gk. anemos, wind, for wind-flower, referring to the movement of the stamens in a breeze; quinque, L., five; folius, L., leaf
  • Range:  Eastern N. Amer., w. to the Mississippi
  • WI Range:  Statewide
  • Common associates: Maples, hickories, spiderwort
  • Wetland Indicator Status: FAC
  • Coefficient of Conservatism: 6, WI; 5, Michigan; 7, Chicago Region
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