Anemone virginiana L.

Thimbleweed

Anemone virginiana plant2

Family - Ranunculaceae

Habit - Rhizomatous perennial forb, from stout caudex.

Stems - Erect, to 1 m, purplish near the base, herbaceous, pilose at base (hairs becoming dense and antrorse appressed on peduncles), single from the base.

Leaves - Basal leaves 1-8, long-petiolate, trifoliolate. Petioles often purplish, to 20 cm long, hairy, with a shallow adaxial groove. Leaflets deeply lobed, the ultimate segments 12-26 mm wide, pubescent, rounded with a small sharp point or narrowed to a sharp or blunt point at the tip, the margins toothed.

Anemone virginiana leavesBasal leaves.

Inflorescence - Each stem with 2 or 3 opposite whorls of 3 or 4 involucral bracts, the uppermost involucre positioned 11-42 cm below the flower, the bracts once-compound with 3 leaflets, short-petiolate but otherwise much resembling the basal leaves, the leaflets with stalks 9-64 mm long, lobed or parted and toothed, narrowed or tapered to a sharp point at the tip. Petioles of involucral bracts with a more distinct adaxial groove. Flowers 1-7 per stem on long, hairy peduncles.

Flowers - Sepals 5, petalloid, greenish-white, sericeous abaxially, glabrous adaxially, 1 cm long, 5 mm broad, acute, with expanded margins near the apex. Margins often involute. Petals absent. Stamens numerous. Filaments glabrous, greenish-white, of varying lengths but the longest to 6 mm. Anthers yellow to greenish, 1.5 mm long. Pistils numerous, each with 1 ovule and 1 style. Receptacle cylindrical. Individual carpels green, pubescent at the base.

Anemone virginiana flowerFlower.

Anemone virginiana flower2

Fruits - Achenes, borne in cylindrical cluster, this less than twice as long as wide, to 3 cm long, 1 cm in diameter. Achenes obovate in outline, densely pubescent with woolly hairs concealing only the basal half, the beak 1-2 mm long. Receptacle elongated at fruiting.

Anemone virginiana fruitFruit clusters.

Flowering - May - August.

Habitat - Rocky and dry open woods and prairies, glades, ledges, bluff tops.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species can be found throughout Missouri, as well as most of the eastern half of the U.S. The plant is very easy to ID when in flower or fruit because both are distinctive. A similar species, A. cylindrica, is found in the northwestern quarter of the state. This differs in having fruiting heads more than twice as long as wide, and also a greater number of bracts in the involucre. Missouri specimens of A. virginiana are classified as var. virginiana.

Medicinally, this species has been used as an expectorant, emetic, and astringent. Natives used the caudex in many forms to treat many ailments. Smoke from roasting seeds was used to revive the unconscious by being blown into the nostrils of the patient.

Photographs taken at Alley Springs, MO., 6-3-03 and 6-27-03 (DETenaglia); also at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 6-15-2007 and 6-18-2011, and Weldon Spring Conservation Area, St. Charles County, MO, 6-24-2011 (SRTurner).


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