Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ten-Petal Anemone

One of the earliest flowers to pop out in the Not-So-Big Woods when Spring settles in is the Ten-Petal Anemone, Anemone berlandieri. Our first ones were light purple, then the mostly-white ones took over. Graceful pointed sepals cup themselves around a veritable schnozz of an ovary as they open in the late morning. Believers in a short workday, they close up again well before dusk.

The obtrusive ovary has earned them another common name: Tenpetal Thimbleweed.

As the days pass, the sepals begin to lose their grip and drop away, leaving only the cylindrical ovary behind at the tip of the stem. The look is rather like an old-fashioned microphone that Frank Sinatra might have crooned into.

They hang around in this condition for a few days, swaying in the spring breezes. Finally, a change occurs. A tiny spot at the tip seems to soften and turn white.
It's the first sign that something has been happening. Inside that cylinder, tiny seeds have been developing a coat of fluff, just waiting to ripen and develop wings. Mature now, they long to break free.
It soon becomes obvious why yet another common name for this Anemone is the Windflower. Like dandelions, they depend on the wind for seed dispersal.
Soon, all that's left is the stem, leaves, and the pointed tip that the seeds once clung to. Some may never get this far. The soft stems are a veritable buffet for bright green aphids. The fluids in this Anemone are supposed to be irritating and mildly toxic. So, don't nibble. Unless you're an aphid. Then, enjoy!


  1. Lovely post about its lifecycle. I love those little flowers because they look so delicate to me. Of course I know that most wildflowers are pretty tenacious!

  2. I agree with Jean - really enjoyed this tour through the plants cycle. Very nice.