Meadow Anemone

Anemone canadensis

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.

You may also know this plant as Canada Anemone.

Core Characteristics

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
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.

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.


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), Common 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), American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Viburnums (Viburnum spp.), Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), and Common Winterberry (Ilex verticillata).

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