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Wisconsin Plant of the Week

Enemion biternatum Raf.

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Familty)

Common Name:

false rue anemone


False rue anemone is a native perennial that grows in rich, moist deciduous forests, often aloong shady streams, throughout Wisconsin. It grows to about 0.5 m tall in large colonies from woody rhizomes or tuberous roots.

Leaves are twice coumpund and arise both from the base of the plant and alternately along the stem.  The basal leaves have a long petiole and leaflets (about 1 cm across) are deeply 3-lobed.  The stem leaves are nearly sessile (attached directly to the stem) and are less deeply lobed.

Each plant has one or a few flowers that bloom in April and May. The flowers are up to 2 cm across and arranged singly in the axils of the leaves. Usually they have 5 petal-like sepals that drop before the fruit is fully formed. Like many species in the buttercup family, the individual flower parts are not fused and there are many stamens.

Enemion is most often confused with Rue Anemone (Anemonella) which has similar white flowers and blooms at the same time. Anemonella grows in drier woods, has flowers clustered in umbels and its fruit are achenes that donít split open when ripe.  Enemion has more deeply lobed leaves and its fruit is a follicle that ruptures when dry to release the seeds inside.

Origin of the name: Enemion, ? Gr. anemos, wind; biternatum, L., refers to the leaves being twice (bi-) divided into three (ternate) parts. Formerly Isopyrum biternatum.

  • Range:  NY, s. Ontario to MN, s. to OK, FL
  • WI Range:  Statewide
  • Common associates: Sugar maple, trout lily, bedstraws
  • Wetland Indicator Status: FAC
  • Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 8 (S&W), C = 8 (MI)
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