Anemone caroliniana (Carolina anemone)

Plant Info
Also known as: Carolina Thimbleweed
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; prairies, barrens, rocky open woods
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:3 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals

[photo of flower] A single 1 to 1½ inch flower at the top of the stem. Flowers have 8 to 20 petal-like sepals, sometimes of unequal size, and numerous yellow stamens around a greenish center. Sepal color ranges from white to pink to blue to deep violet, sometimes bi-colored with white just near the base.

[photo of underside of sepals] The back side of the outer sepals are covered in long, fine hairs, as is the flowering stalk except near the base.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf attachment: whorl Leaf type: compound Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: palmate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leafy bracts] Leaves are basal, with a whorl of 3 leafy bracts on the lower part of the flowering stem, often near the base of the plant. Each bract has 3 or more lobes or notches at the tip.

[photo of basal leaves] The few basal leaves are palmately compound in groups of 3, a compound leaf up to 1 inch across when mature, on a stalk 1 to 4 inches long. Leaflets are hairless to sparsely hairy, notched at the tip or deeply lobed into 2 or 3 parts, which may be further notched or lobed as well as have sharp teeth around the edges. The flowering stem is smooth at the base


The flowers of Carolina Anemone are highly variable, which might lead one to think the different colors, number or shape of the sepals may represent different species or varieties, but they do not. It has a rather large flower for such a short plant, and is a delicate little beauty but fleeting, the bloom period relatively short and the flowers beginning to disintegrate almost as soon as they open. While not a common sight in Minnesota it is not considered a rare species here, but is Endangered in Wisconsin.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Hastings Sand Coulee SNA, Dakota County, and in Renville County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota and Renville counties. Photos courtesy Jerry Hogeboom taken in Dakota County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Brian - St. Peter
on: 2014-05-05 10:18:29

This plant was in bud at Morton Outcrops SNA in Renville County on April 27.

Posted by: Marilyn - Battle Lake MN
on: 2014-05-12 10:19:03

My grandchildren and I found these flowers blooming in our yard and nearby woods on Mothers Day, May 11, 2014 near Battle Lake MN.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-05-12 11:00:55

Marilyn, what you saw in your yard and at Battle Lake probably wasn't Carolina anemone - it's a rare species whose habitat is typically dry sandy prairie and rock outcrops.

Posted by: Gretchen - Weaver Dunes SNA
on: 2016-04-21 11:58:38

Found on a mowed firebreak near West Newton. 30+ flowering plants. Very cool, new plant for me!

Posted by: Debbie - Southern Todd County
on: 2019-05-14 20:34:03

Several on our lake property, steep woodland property. Right on edge of undisturbed woods. They grew in a disturbed area we put in some small trees.

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