Canada Anemone


North Dakota is home to somewhere around thirty species of the Buttercup Family.  The family includes buttercups, larkspurs, columbine, crowfoots, and meadowrues.  There are also a half dozen species of anemones such as pasque flower, thimbleflower, and wood anemone.  But it is the meadow or Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis) that has been catching my attention recently.

The native range for Canada anemone includes most of Canada and the United States eastward of a line from Montana to New Mexico.  It is common over much of our region, and here in North Dakota it may be found on low prairie, wet meadows, open woodlands, and road ditches.  Canada anemone spreads by fine rhizomes and is generally observed in extensive stands or patches, often as a monoculture or perhaps interspersed with some grasses.

Canada anemone stands only a foot or so tall, but it is the showy flowers produced at the tip of the stem that generally catches our attention.  Canada anemone produces rather showy white flowers about 1-2 inches across with five white petals (actually sepals).  The leaves are produced on long leaf stalks and are deeply lobed and toothed.

Melvin Gilmore in his Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region (1914) noted that Canada anemone was highly valued and said to have great mystical power by the Omaha and Ponca.  It was used to treat a variety of wounds and ailments and was administered both internally and externally.

Human interest in the plant is still high.  Like some other showy wildflowers, people have occasionally tried to propagate Canada anemone from seeds and transplants in their flower gardens.  It is known to transplant well, perhaps too well.  Canada anemone does well in a variety of conditions ranging from full sun to partial shade and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Once established in a garden, the rhizomes spread quickly, enabling the species to form extensive monocultures similar to what occurs under more natural conditions, and perhaps crowd out the other flowers.

As you travel the region over the next few weeks be on the lookout for Canada anemone.

Anemone canadensis








Chuck Lura

Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.

Award-winning radio, television, and public media services that educate, involve, and inspire the people of the prairie region.

Donate Now

Breaking News

Follow Us On Social Media