Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Canada anemone (Meadow anemone)

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Summer wildflowers are coming on strong now. On native or restored prairies, you may find cup plants or compass plants in bloom, along with yellow coneflowers, purple coneflowers, rattlesnake master, blazing star, and several kinds of milkweed, including common, swamp, butterfly, or whorled. Along wooded trails, the purple, star-shaped blossoms of American bellflower are a frequent sight.

This week’s featured plant typically starts blooming in the late spring; in most parts of Iowa, the flowers are gone by July. Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis) is also known as meadow anemone, round-leaf thimbleweed, or windflower. This member of the buttercup family is native to most of North America, except for states in the deep South or west of the Rocky Mountains. It can thrive in a range of usually wet habitats, such as “moist prairies, sedge meadows, openings in floodplain woodlands, woodland borders, banks of streams, and swampy areas.” I took some of the enclosed pictures along bike trails in Des Moines and Clive and others on lower ground at the Tipton Prairie in Greene County.

According to the Minnesota Wildflowers website, Canada anemone “can form sizable colonies via spreading rhizomes.” The Friends of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden site advises, “In the home garden it can make a good ground cover beneath trees and shrubs but in a restricted setting it needs control due to its spreading habit. For full flowering potential, it needs a mostly sunny area.” Likewise, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s site notes that this plant “can become quite aggressive in too favorable conditions.”

For botanically accurate descriptions of Canada anemone foliage, flowers, and fruit, I recommend the Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, or Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden websites.

Most of the time, each stalk will have only one large, white flower.

Stalks may grow close together.

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