Anemone quinquefolia (Wood Anemone)

Plant Info
Also known as: Nightcaps
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:shade; woods
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FACU
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: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] A single 1-inch flower on a hairy stalk arises from a whorl of leaves at the end of the stem. Flowers have 4 to 9 petal-like sepals, usually 5, with numerous white-tipped stamens surrounding a green center. Flower color is usually white, occasionally pink.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: whorl Leaf type: compound Leaf type: lobed

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 3, though the lateral leaflets may be cleft so it appears to be 4 or 5 leaflets. A single whorl of 3 stalked leaves sits at the top of the stem with the flower stalk arising from the center. Leaflets are up to 1½ inches long, notched, lobed or deeply divided in 2 or 3 parts, coarsely toothed at the tip end, wedge-shaped at the base, and very short-stalked or stalkless. Leaf color ranges from bright green to purplish green to dark purple. A single basal leaf similar to the stem leaves, but nearly round in outline, may also be present. Leaves and stems are covered in fine hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a round head of beaked, oval seeds, each 1/8 to 1/6 inch long, variously hairy and the beak straight or curved.


Wood Anemone tends to grow in thick mats, spreading via rhizomes. A single plant may take 5 years or longer to flower, so often only a few flowers are seen among the leaves. When not flowering it can be recognized by the basal leaves, nearly round in outline, with 3 hairy, nearly stalkless leaflets, the lateral leaflets often deeply cleft. There are 2 recognized varieties: var. minima has a limited range in NC, TN, VA, WV; var. quniquefolia ranges from Nova Scotia to southern Manitoba and south to Alabama, and is found in Minnesota.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake and Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Parks, Ramsey County, Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, Winona County, and in Anoka County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, Hennepin County, and in Anoka County.


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

Posted by: Jill - Harris, Mn
on: 2011-05-08 16:32:58

Just west of Hwy 35 in the woods at a friends home. The patch is about 10ft area.

Posted by: Pat - Pillager
on: 2012-02-09 00:13:36

I have these growing in my yard. Very delightful in Spring. They disappear in summer.

Posted by: Kay - Hennipin County
on: 2012-05-29 16:23:34

I always thought this was a purple plant. Does anyone know of a similar flower in purple?

Posted by: lou - Moose Lake, MN
on: 2012-05-31 18:47:25

Lovely to see covering the forest floor. A carpet of joy!

Posted by: Renae - Carley State Park, Wabasha County, MN
on: 2013-05-27 14:52:53

I saw both white and pink Wood Anemone in Carley State Park today (Memorial Day).

Posted by: John - minneapolis
on: 2015-05-03 22:28:08

Large mats of these blooming now at the river dog park. Very pretty.

Posted by: John - Lake Maria State Park
on: 2015-05-13 13:56:34

Beautiful dainty flowers!

Posted by: Tom - Father Hennepin state park
on: 2015-06-03 12:59:29

Was out this morning and the entire forest floor was covered with this in a tall soft purple version. Quite a sight mixed in with all the ferns

Posted by: Andrea - Scharr's Bluff, Spring Lake Park Reserve
on: 2016-04-21 13:50:22

Many smaller clumps blooming, both green and purplish leaves. Also blooming today were rue anemone, Dutchman's breeches, the last of the bloodroot, 3 kinds of violets and golden star sedge.

Posted by: Kevin - Bunker Hills Regional Park
on: 2016-04-30 20:36:30

Saw large mats of these blooming today in NE section of Bunker Hills Park, some white and others very pink.

Posted by: Leah - West Medicine Lake Park
on: 2016-07-04 21:36:36

They are all along the dirt path across the road from the lake.

Posted by: Jenn - Apple Valley
on: 2017-05-07 20:04:05

They showed up as a volunteer in my shaded backyard garden

Posted by: Clifford H - Indian Heights Park, Rochester
on: 2017-05-09 07:36:41

Blooming in several places May 6 in open, dry woods.

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