Description & Overview

Meadow Anemone grows as a hardy, native Wisconsin groundcover and is one of the earliest blooming flowers. The deeply divided foliage looks like that of Wild Geranium. In late spring to early summer, small white flowers appear. It spreads readily, looks lovely, supports our native pollinators, and makes a great alternative to Vinca.

May also be known as Canada Anemone.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 8-24 inches

Mature Spread: 24-36 inches

Growth Rate: Fast

Growth Form: Spreading, rhizomatous

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Wet - moderate moisture, sandy, loam

Flower: White, usually 5 - petaled sepals, yellow/green centers, stalks are pubescent

Bloom Period: May – June (sporadically through Aug)

Foliage: Green, deeply divided, resembles a Wild Geranium leaf

Fall Color: N/A

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Bur - like, looks like a very small Carex grayii seed head

Suggested Uses

Meadow Anemone can be found throughout Wisconsin in meadows, prairies, seeps, glades, streams, ditches, and more. They are partial to wet to moist areas. This plant is an excellent alternative to Vinca as it blooms just as long, spreads as readily, and is not invasive.

Naturalization: Plant around ponds, ditches, streams, and culverts. This plant will form a buffer along the water line with the benefit of not having to mow up to the water line! Vegetation on the “shore” also discourages geese from nesting nearby.

Restoration: Meadow Anemone spreads aggressively in the right circumstances, mainly by rhizomes, but also by reseeding. This is a very beneficial trait for a plant to have when being used for restoration purposes, as native, quick-spreading groundcovers prevent invasive species from taking hold before the natives have had time to establish.

Erosion: Prevent soil erosion in wet, rich soils along stream banks or culverts. Meadow Anemone has a tendency to create a groundcover with an extensive root system that stabilizes the soil.

Meadow Anemone grows as a hardy, native Wisconsin groundcover and is one of the earliest blooming flowers. The deeply divided foliage looks like that …

Wildlife Value

Meadow Anemone produces copious amounts of pollen but not nectar. The pollen is valued by many including Andrena, Certina, and Halictid bees, which are the main pollinators, as well as some flies such as the Red-eyed fly.

Many beetles such as Long-horned beetles and Tumbling Flower beetles also treasure the pollen Meadow Anemone provides.

Meadow Anemone is also used by waterfowl as a snack.

Maintenance Tips

When conditions are favorable, this plant can really spread and take over an area. To manage this should this not be desired, young plants can be easily removed by hand-pulling.

Dividing the plants in early spring will help rejuvenate their vigor, as crowded plants can produce fewer flowers.

Meadow Anemone grows as a hardy, native Wisconsin groundcover and is one of the earliest blooming flowers. The deeply divided foliage looks like that …

Pests/Problems

The larvae of a fly, Dasineura anemone, forms bud galls but they are not considered pests per se.

Watch out for downy and powdery mildew, rust, and foliar nematodes. Division will help facilitate proper airflow.

Leaf Lore

Anemone is derived from the Greek word anemos, meaning “wind.” In Greek mythology, Anemone was the daughter of the winds. It was believed that the flowers only bloomed when the wind blew; however, this is not true.

As a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculuaceae, all parts of this plant are poisonous.
The Meskwaki and Ojibwa people infused the root to clear the throat for singing in ceremonies, to alleviate lumbar pain, as an eye wash for crossed eyes, twitches, and poisoning, as well as for helping headaches and dizzy spells, and for lung congestion.

The Iroquois used the root to treat tuberculosis and worms and combined it with liquor to counteract ‘witch medicine.’

Companion Plants

Bladdernut (Staphylea trifoliata), Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), and Riddell’s Goldenrod (Solidago riddellii) are all found in similar habitats and would make excellent companions.

Meadow Anemone works well as a groundcover in oak and maple forests, as well as underneath moisture-loving shrubs such as Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Viburnum spp., Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), and Winterberry (Ilex spp.).

Meadow Anemone grows as a hardy, native Wisconsin groundcover and is one of the earliest blooming flowers. The deeply divided foliage looks like that …
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Written by Beth DeLain