Canada Anemones

2016 November 12

These white flowers were growing intermixed with several other wetland plants along the Pilgrim River boardwalk on June 26, 2016.


The flowers are white with 5 petals, and a greenish center with yellow anthers to carry the pollen.


The leaves are roughly hand-shaped, with jagged edges on the lobes.


After the flower is pollenated, it drops its petals and becomes a kind of spiky ball that will mature into a seed-head.


So, these look like Canada Anemones[1], Anemone canadensis, which are widespread wetland flowers. They spread rapidly from rhizomes, and while they are evidently native plants that play OK with others around here, I understand that in other environments (particularly further south) they can become aggressive weeds[2]. They can grow all the way up into USDA zone 2 (which is basically “tundra”), so they are pretty cold-hardy.

[1] I heard about “sea anemones” long before I ever found out what the original “anemone” flowers looked like. So, I made the not-unreasonable assumption that the anemone flower would actually look like the sea anemone in some way, maybe by having rounded, elongated petals that stuck out from the middle kind of like tentacles. But, it turns out that, as far as I can see, the flowers look nothing at all like the sea creatures. So why did the sea creatures get named after that particular flower? Beats me!

[2] Sometimes I think an interesting long-term experiment would be to pick a few spots in different environments, put a long-delay time-lapse camera on each one, and then seed each spot to the most aggressive and invasive plants in the area and let them duke it out. Then compress ten to twenty years of no-holds-barred botanical combat into maybe 5-minute videos. Who! Will! Win?! Will the Asian invaders win out, or will they ultimately be overcome by the local talent? Tune in next decade to find out!

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