Anemones, Again


Ten-petal anemone bud

One of our earliest spring flowers, the ten-petal anemones (Anemone berlandieri) had begun to appear in late January, until the February freeze put an end to their eager opening. Undiscouraged, they began blooming again once temperatures moderated.

The plant’s scientific name honors French naturalist Jean Louis Berlandier, who was active in both Texas and Mexico during the 1800s, but the common name ‘ten-petal anemone’ is somewhat misleading. The plant has sepals rather than petals,, and the number of sepals can range from seven to twenty-five. This pretty white example has eleven.

In Brazoria and Galveston counties, white flowers seem to predominate, so I was pleased to find a lavender example in Palacios, and a strikingly pink flower near Cost.

No matter the color, the flower’s sepals eventually fall away, leaving the cone-like structure that gave rise to the common name ‘thimbleweed’. Eventually, the individual pistils begin to dry. The developing fruits, designed for wind dispersal, provide yet another common name for the plant: windflower.

As summer approaches, the plant becomes dormant in response to the rising heat. Their appearance may be a sign of spring, but their disappearance is a sign of summer, and the fresh set of floral delights it will bring.


Comments always are welcome.

57 thoughts on “Anemones, Again

  1. It may be primarily a wind-pollinated species yet flies are also drawn to it as a source of sweet nectar, I presume. I am glad that you were able to catch this shot.

    1. It occurred to me that I rarely see any sort of fly around this plant, so I did a little looking. It seems as though the fly might only have been having a rest, rather than sipping nectar. I found a few sources that seconded what this article said:

      “There is little information about reproduction in [Anemone berlandieri], but a closely related species, Canada windflower (Anemone canadensis), is cross-pollinated by insects which are rewarded only with pollen since the flowers do not produce nectar.”

      That stopped me. Then, I did a little more research, and learned something. On a US Forest Service site, I found this: “Anemophilous, or wind pollinated flowers, are usually small and inconspicuous, and do not possess a scent or produce nectar. The anthers may produce a large number of pollen grains, while the stamens are generally long and protrude out of flower.”

      That’s our Anemone!

  2. My sound-sodden mind recast your title as Anemone Againomy.

    The English name windflower carries over the meaning of Greek anemone, from the anemos that meant ‘wind.’ The underlying Indo-European root anə- meant ‘spirit,’ as we see in a related Latin-derived word like animate.

    1. And I just learned a new, related word: ‘anemophilous,’ which describes wind-pollinated plants like the anemone.

      In a quite different context, I found that Japanese anime take their name from the English word ‘animation.’ If you were to search using the terms ‘anime’ and ‘leek,’ you’d get this, and that future leek-related post I’m working on. I dare you not to laugh! (The language is Finnish.)

  3. Beautiful set of photos, Linda. I realized that I haven’t seen any anemones in my garden this spring and I usually have a few, here-n-there. That last photo looks like a Sesame Street character!

    1. Now that you mention it — yes! I see the arm, the eyes, and of course that wonderful hair. One of the interesting tidbits I came across is an explanation for the occasional presence of ten-petal anemones in cemeteries, when they aren’t common in the surrounding countryside. They like a little lime in the soil, and the leaching of lime from the gravestones encourages them.

    1. I think so too, Becky. When I first came across this plant, it was at the stage where the sepals had fallen but the seed wasn’t yet formed. There was only that funny, cone-like structure, and it took me forever to figure out what it was. I know there are apps that will provide instant identification, but I rather like the process of discovery, even if it takes a little longer. Sometimes, figuring out what something isn’t can be as useful as knowing what it is.

    1. I think I had a better weekend than you, Pit! I hope you get some resolution to your drippiness tomorrow. At least the rain will be good for the flowers and trees — and your creek!

    1. And occasionally in the fall. When the weather cools, these sometimes will come out of dormancy to offer up a few more blooms before real autumn comes. Whenever they appear, they’re a delight.

    1. I really like the seed heads. They can be a little wiry, like this one, but sometimes they’re truly fluffy, and look like a miniature cattail. Those are especially fun.

    1. For at least three years now, your yard has been my early warning system for these. You seem to get them earlier than anyone, so when you mention then, I start looking. I’ve always been a little envious of your colored ones, too — but now I’ve at least seen some for myself!

  4. Lovely photos, Linda. Very nice examples of the various stages of this little plant. It is amazing what one can not see with just our eyes compared to what one can see through the lens of a camera.

    1. That’s so true, Yvonne. I think there are a couple of things involved in the ‘better seeing’ that a camera allows. One is the technology, like with a macro lens. The other is attention. It seems that a camera slows me down, and encourages me to look at the world with a sharper eye. I’m always amazed at the details that emerge, like the seed head in the last photo here, or even the fly on the emerged flower. Who knew that flies had hairs on their legs? Not me!

    1. Just today, I learned that Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants can change from male to female and back again. Who knew? I tried to find the blog where I read about it, but can’t. It’s someone I follow, but I can’t remember the name of her blog. This article has the details.

      1. Thanks for the article. That is interesting. When I’m back home, I always look for them in the woods. There are days that I wish I would have studied horticulture, especially since I went to an agriculture school. But, I do feel I have learned a lot on my own and with the help of others (you). My kids gave me some garden lectures for Christmas.

    1. I think the seeds are as interesting as the flowers are pretty. Once the seeds are all gone, what’s left sometimes reminds me of a burnt matchstick. Looking at the remnants, you’d never suspect such a pretty flower, or the complicated process it goes through.

  5. I always thought that the anemone is a creature of the sea. Now I know they are land and sea creatures, that is while taking the liberty of the plant being a creature usually reserved for things that move about.
    I like both very much. Thank you, Linda.

    1. The sea anemones were named after the anemone flower, partly because both are so prettily colored, and partly because the movement of sea anemones in the currents reminded people of the flowers blowing in the breeze. We’re not the only ones to look at natural phenomena and say, “Gosh — that looks like [fill in the blank].” They’re both beautiful, for sure. The anemone flowers of Europe are different from these, but they all are sometimes called ‘windflowers.’

  6. Oddly enough, that last photo of the anemone in summer looks a lot like me in summer, especially when the temperature hits the 90’s.

  7. Wonderful variety in your selection of anemone photos Linda! Cute little flowers, I enjoyed being introduced to this kind of anemone .. thank you.

    1. I didn’t learn about those ‘other’ anemones until after I’d met this one. Both are beautiful, but this one isn’t suited to a garden. I did take a look at some photos of the garden anemones, and found a really pretty white one with a black center. If I had a garden, I’d be tempted to give that one a try; it’s very dramatic. There’s a photo of it here, about mid-page.

      1. That settles it .. I think I’ll do an anemone post and link to your post, to the page you’ve just given me, and to Ann Mackay’s blog as she’s taken some beautiful photos of anemones. My pics are not great but I have some anemones in rock pools at the beach, and I prepped them last night to go into a post having been captivated by your examples of anemones and the comment discussion associated with your post! Oh, and those white ones with black centres … wow, never come across that before!

    1. Thanks, Derrick. I’m always pleased when I have the chance to show all of the stages of a flower at the same time — especially when the seed heads are so frowsy!

    1. The seed heads are kind of wiry and fluffy all at the same time. The seeds don’t blow away as easily as dandelions, but they’re still fun. The only unattractive stage (to my eyes) is when the seeds are all gone. Then, what’s left looks like a wooden matchstick.

  8. What pretty colors! The white is stunning, but the purple and pink varieties? Heavenly! And I’m still giggling over your last photo — looks like a bad hair day, for sure!

    1. I’d seen a very few lavender ones in the hill country, but they all were a little tired and torn, so this one was really pleasing. And I’d never seen a pink one of any sort, let alone a vibrant one like this. I’m glad you liked them — and I’m glad to have amused you with the seed head. I’ve been there a time or two myself!

  9. Lovely images – I especially like the delicate sheen you’ve caught on the cone that remains when the sepals have fallen. And it’s really interesting to see the fluffy seeds developing. They remind me of the fluffy seeds of Japanese anemones and they too would disperse in the wind. I can see why they’re called windflowers.

    1. It’s fun that Liz used some anemones from both of us for her post. Thanks to her, I learned that we have sea anemone species here in Texas, too. I’ve never seen them, but I don’t get out on the rock jetties where they’re said to live. I didn’t know that sea anemones were named for the flowers, either. It seems that the way the sea anemones ‘wave’ in the ocean current reminded people of the flowers blowing in the wind.

      1. That’s intriguing! I’ve only seen sea anemones once, when I was in Corfu many years ago.

        1. Have you seen the series The Durrells in Corfu? It’s loosely based on Gerald Durrell’s books about his family’s life there. I’ve not read any of Gerald, but Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet is a favorite.

          1. I did see a little bit of it – an episode here and there. I would have liked to have seen more but it wasn’t on at a convenient time. Dad had some of Gerald Durrell’s books and I read some when I was a kid and enjoyed them. (But that was a very long time ago!)

            1. I can’t believe it — The Durrells in Corfu is included with my Amazon Prime membership. It’s the only subscription service I use, so I’m pleased that it’s there. I believe I’ll put it on my to-be-watched list.

  10. Guess I’m just weird. When I hear anemone, I always think of any one of 100 different sorts of underwater creatures – not even plants. The flowers are pretty though.

    1. That makes sense to me. After all, you live near a coast that’s perfect for sea anemones. We have them here in Texas, or so I read, but I’ve never seen one. Here, they tend to be small, not so brightly colored, and often are either on rock jetties or buried in sand.

      I was interested in the chicken-and-egg aspect of the two forms of anemones, and learned that the sea creatures were named after the flowers, rather than vice-versa. The ‘waving’ of the sea creatures in the current reminded people of the flowers blowing in the wind.

    1. When the seeds decide to take off, they really can fly. When I first encountered the plant, I saw only the undeveloped seed heads, and had no idea what they were. My first guess was some sort of plantain: not the worst guess in the world, given its appearance. Finally, I discovered a few that still were blooming, and the mystery was solved.

    1. It’s one of our prettiest early spring flowers, and I was so pleased to be able to find some colored ones as well as the white. The seed head’s adorable, of course; I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

    1. It is beautiful, and it’s as much a sign of spring as dandelions. I was more than a little excited to find the lavender and pink flowers this year, and I always get a kick out of the seedheads.

    1. I had to look up the leucodendrons; they’re quite attractive. Given their structure, I thought they seemed a combination of our Indian paintbrushes and this anemone; they have the same colorful bracts surrounding the cone-like center. It’s interesting how many South African plants thrive here. Cape Honeysuckle’s one that does very well, and the pollinators love it.

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