A Surprising, but Seasonal, Survivor

On February 27, just one week after the last hard freeze warning was lifted for the Houston area and any remaining snow and ice had disappeared,  this hardy, ten-petal anemone (Anemone berlandieri) was blooming beside a Brazoria County road.

In normal years, the Anemone is one of our earliest signs of spring. Appearing in late January or early February, it blooms only through April or May. Despite its apparent delicacy and small size — an inch or inch-and-a-half in diameter —  it clearly can cope with sub-freezing temperatures and icy insults.

Like other anemones, this Texas native sometimes is called ‘windflower,’ although ‘thimble flower’ is equally common. The species epithet refers to Jean Louis Berlandier (c.1805-1851), a French botanist who studied plants in Mexico and Texas.

Berlandier joined the Mexican Boundary Commission in 1826 as a botanist and zoologist. In 1829, he settled in Matamoros, Mexico, where he served as a physician and pharmacist. Unfortunately, his life ended in 1851 when, while crossing the San Fernando River on horseback, unusually swift currents pulled him under, and he wasn’t able to survive.


Comments always are welcome.

51 thoughts on “A Surprising, but Seasonal, Survivor

  1. It must give you a special sense of pleasure after all you have gone through down there. Nature is resilient!

    1. After a week of warmer temperatures, there are signs of new growth everywhere. It won’t be long until better decisions can be made about what’s salvageable and what isn’t, but in the meantime? I’m off today to see what nature’s been up to at my favorite refuge.

  2. A beautiful flower – and I can see why it is called the ‘thimble flower’. I think anemones must be pretty tough in general – I’m having trouble taming the Japanese anemones in my garden!

    1. I once had a pitcher with Japanese anemones decorating it; those were white, purple, and red. It was a lovely color combination, and it’s easy to see why gardeners enjoy them. I suppose their tendency to spread could be a good news/bad news story, but these always please me. Occasionally, I find a purple one, and that’s a real treat.

      1. LOL! I’ve spent the afternoon clearing a clump of the pink Japanese anemone ‘Hadspen Abundance’ out of an area where I wanted to plant something else…but I know they’ll probably be back. They and two other types are determined to take over my garden, but they are very pretty. :)

  3. It’s very pretty, nice sign of spring. My parents’ yard always has Greek windflowers (anemone blanda) in the spring, which is still a ways off in NY. Instead of a thimble, the pistil on this variety reminds me of a tiny dill pickle!

    1. And now you’ve reminded me of that other Arlo Guthrie classic: the one that begins with the lines, “I don’t want a pickle/ just wanna ride on my motorsickle…” I may never see a thimble again. I looked for your parents’ anemone, and there’s certainly nothing bland about it. We sometimes use ‘bland’ as another way to say ‘boring,’ but the Missouri Botanical Garden site says that blanda means mild, pleasing or charming. Personally, I think all of the anemones are charming.

    1. I’m glad. Some of our hedges are putting on new growth already, and I’ve seen several dandelions blooming. I’ve never been so happy to see those bits of bright yellow.

  4. Excellent photo! I see this is in the buttercup family, so I’m not surprised to see that it is very hardy and an early bloomer. It’s a beautiful blossom: I wish it would expand its range up to the northwest! The first wildflower to bloom here is also in that family, the sagebrush buttercup. I found one in bloom on January 29 this year and about ten days later the temperature was down to -9ºF.

    1. I saw my first buttercups today — three of them. They were pretty ragged, but there they were. I remember your photos of ice-covered buttercups in previous years, and how amazed I was to see them thriving in those conditions.

      This flower sometimes blooms pink or lavender/purple, but I usually see white ones. When they’re still in bud there often are hints of pink, and many of the flowers have a bit of pink on the underside of the sepals: just enough to make them even more attractive.

  5. What a lovely first sign of spring. I was once given a book about the early plant explorers and it was quite gruesome – so many seemed to meet tragic ends.

    1. I’ve become fascinated by the lives of some of the naturalists and botanists who roamed early Texas; their journals make compelling reading. They were explorers in every sense of the word, and the conditions they faced were tough as any faced by settlers. Behind every Berlandier or Lindheimer or Roemer lie a multitude of stories: some inspiring, some humorous, and, as you say, some tragic. We owe them quite a debt, and including them in our ‘plant stories’ is one way of repaying it.

  6. Great close-up photo of a pretty little flower thing. I’ve seen some foliage, but no anemone flowers yet. Soon, though!! A neighbor told me yesterday that he’d put out his lemon trees, which are blooming, and the honeybees were all over them. Yay!!

    1. I found a field of anemones today, and they were covered with flies of various sorts. I didn’t see any bees, although various sources suggest that bees and beetles may be windflower pollinators. I take it your neighbor was able to protect his lemon trees somehow; perhaps they were potted and small enough to move inside. However he managed it, I’m glad they’re serving the bees!

      1. He has a greenhouse with a heater. Our neighborhood didn’t lose electricity, except briefly. Yes, he has lots of tropical. My SIL brought her lemon tree ( in a rolling pot) into her garage– it’s fine.

    1. I found dozens today, and was so happy to see them. Some already had seeded, and were half-fluffy. I’m not sure how they managed to bloom and go to seed in a week or ten days, but they sure did. I only found white today, but I’m going to keep my eyes open for the lavender or pink.

  7. You’re ahead of Austin again. Normally I’d have seen some anemone flowers by now. The ice, snow, and prolonged sub-freezing temperature here two weeks ago delayed a lot of flowering. I did, however, see some elbowbush buds opening yesterday.

    1. Despite the fact that you’ve shown elbowbush in the past, I’d forgotten about it: reasonably enough, perhaps, since I still haven’t come across it in my travels. I commented on one of your posts that it reminded me of witch hazel, but I have that straightened out now. What I’d found wasn’t witch hazel at all, but emerging strands of dodder. Now I’ve been reminded not only of elbowbush, but also of my intent to search out dodder’s flowers this year.

  8. Have not been graced with one of these yet. Even walked all around REL Sandylands Sanctuary yesterday and they weren’t out over there (not sure they are even there). Lots of violets and caradmine!

    1. I don’t think these would show up at Sandylands. I just looked at the USDA map, and they aren’t shown in east Texas. I’m curious about the ‘caradmine.’ Did you by chance mean ‘cardamine’? I’ve never heard of either genus, to be honest, so I need your help in sorting it out!

    1. I still remember my amazement when I learned how much information was contained within those scientific names — including some very interesting history about the people who ‘discovered’ and categorized the plants. It makes it easier to remember some of those fancy names when I associate them with very real people.

    1. Strong currents are dangerous, particularly if they’re hidden. Every year, people get caught in rip currents off Galveston beaches, or drown after being caught in currents at San Luis pass. I suspect Berlandier would have been a good rider, but things happen.

      In any event, he’s been well honored, with several flowers bearing his name. Another favorite of mine is a yellow primrose-like beauty called Berlandier’s sundrops — isn’t that a great name?

  9. Did his horse survive, Linda? Sad enough to hear of one death that way, but worse when the horse doesn’t make it, too. This is a pretty little flower, and I’m glad it weathered your storm.

    1. I don’t know the horse’s fate, Debbie. I suppose there might be a record of it somewhere, but I didn’t see any mention of it in the sources I found. I do know that horses are strong swimmers, so it’s possible it did survive.

      From what I saw today — including large patches of these flowers — I suspect that when spring arrives, it’s going to happen fast. It’s going to be interesting to see what’s in bloom in another week or two.

    1. I’m not as good as I’d like to be at identifying plants by their newly-emergent leaves, but this is one I can spot — along with bluebonnets, dandelions, and lyreleaf sage. It’s great fun to see that first growth, and know that even after stretches of difficult weather, the flowers will come.

    1. No hothouse flower, these! While they aren’t as showy as some garden anemones, they have their own charms — particularly, their willingness to bloom when people are nearly dying with eagerness for spring.

    1. Now you’ve piqued my curiosity. I never have thought the center was sticky, but on the other hand, I don’t remember testing the theory on a fresh flower. One it’s gone to seed, it’s quite dry, but I’ll have to put my hand to a few fresh ones to see what’s really going on. This one’s lovely, but some of them are even more white, making them especially appealing to this white flower lover.

    1. I was focused on finding at least one spring flower, and this one rewarded me with an appearance — so I focused on it. Thanks for noticing, Derrick!

  10. It’s a lovely early bloom and I am glad you found it looking rather hardy. I wonder how its cells did not burst from the well below zero cold snap. I counted petals but ran out of fingers.

    1. That’s easy. Like bluebonnets, it stayed below ground until things warmed up. I’ve seen them emerge and begin budding in two days, and be in bloom in three. They’re some eager beavers, so to speak. Beyond that, we had a fifty-degree temperature swing in only two days. When the cold was done, it was done. All last week it was into the 70s — just right to begin tempting flowers out of the ground.

    1. They’re one of my favorites, and they certainly signal spring earlier than many of our natives. As they mature, the sepals fall away and the center cone elongates. Eventually, the seeds fluff up and blow away like a dandelion’s or milkweed’s. I have a few photos in the files, but I’m going to wait for this year’s crop to be complete the cycle before showing that.

      1. The cone is a wonderful feature. I should check to see if I have any snowdrops emerging. Adonis vernalis might have bloomed already, and the witch hazel buds may pop soon.

        1. Witch hazel’s one I’ve never seen. It’s found here only in the east Texas woods — I’ll bet it’s time to consult iNaturalist and head that direction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.