Smallflowered anemone – Anemone parviflora

Alaska Wildflowers | White

Smallflowered anemone

Anemone parviflora

Common Names

arctic windflower
few-flowered windflower
northern anemone
smallflowered anemone
small-flower anemone
windflower

Synonyms

Anemone borealis
Anemone parviflora var. parviflora
Anemone parviflora var. grandiflora

Subspecies

none

Similar to and easily confused with Anemone narcissiflora

Genus: Anemone
Family: Ranunculaceae
Order: Ranunculales
full classification



Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Anemone parviflora, also known as the small-flowered anemone or northern anemone, is a perennial herbaceous plant, meaning it is not woody. It grows aerial shoots from short caudices situated on primarily horizontal rhizomes, reaching a height ranging from 5 to 30 cm (2-12 in). Its basal leaves, ranging from one to five (or up to seven in some cases), are ternate (divided into three leaflets). Each leaflet is obtriangular, resembling an inverted triangle, with dimensions of 0.5-1.8 cm long and 0.5-1.3 cm wide. The base of these leaflets is cuneate (wedge-shaped), and they terminate in an apex that is either obtuse (rounded) or truncate (appearing as if cut off). The leaf surfaces can vary from being villous, which is to say hairy, to nearly glabrous or smooth. The leaf margins on the wider end are crenate to broadly serrate, meaning they have rounded to sharp, forward-pointing teeth. The lateral leaflets usually exhibit lobing or partitioning once, giving rise to additional 4-15 mm wide lobes.

It produces a single flower per stem, and a hairy peduncle supports the inflorescence. Just below the flower are 2-3 involucral bracts. These leaf-like structures, resembling the terminal leaflets of the basal leaves, encircle the flower in a single tier. Like the leaflets, they are obtriangular and measure between 0.5-2.5 cm, with crenate to broadly serrate margins. Their surfaces, too, vary from hairy (villous) to nearly smooth (glabrous). The involucral bracts may be situated a considerable distance from the flower itself.

The flowers have 4-7 sepals, which may display a range of colors: pure white, blue-tinged, or a gradient of white at the base and tip, transitioning to blue in the middle. These sepals, broadly elliptic to ovate, measure 7-20 mm long by 4-9 mm wide and are usually blue on the underside. Each flower produces a spherical head of achenes, a type of dry fruit, on a 4-18 cm pedicel. Each achene is densely woolly and obovoid (egg-shaped), measuring about 2-2.5 mm by 1 mm, and has a straight, glabrous (smooth) beak that’s 1-2.5 mm long. The flowers typically have 70-80 stamens.

Anemone parviflora bears a close resemblance to Anemone narcissiflora. However, A. parviflora tends to be slightly smaller, with more rounded sepals that nearly always exhibit a blue tint on the back. Another distinguishing feature is that A. parviflora produces only one flower per stem, while A. narcissiflora often grows with 2-5 flowers per stem (but can also be one) and typically boasts larger leaves.

The blue-tinted backside of the sepals

Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

The smallflowered anemone holds a significant place in traditional medicine in North America and Europe. It has been used to treat abrasions and toothaches and has seen usage in remedies for rheumatism. This plant has also been used to address sex-related difficulties and conditions such as melancholy. The seeds were specifically used to relieve headaches, lending further credibility to their wide-ranging medicinal use.

The plant contains the antibiotics anemonin and protoanemonin, which have been found to be active against a broad range of bacteria, adding scientific backing to its traditional use in treating various ailments.

In addition to its medicinal uses, parts of Anemone parviflora have been consumed as food. The leaves have been added to salads, while the rootstocks have been boiled or eaten raw. However, potential consumers should proceed with caution, as Anemone related to Delphinium, are listed as poisonous in many publications. Some sources cite that parts of the plant might remain toxic unless cooked which would render them safe.

Indigenous Aleut people have reportedly used the plant to make a decoction taken to stop bleeding. They also burned the cotton from ripe seed heads on hot coals and inhaled the smoke to relieve headaches. The early spring growth at the top of the root has also been reportedly consumed by people in the Aleutian Islands, offering a waxy, mealy texture and taste.


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Distribution and Habitat

Anemone parviflora is widely distributed across Canada, Alaska, and the northwestern United States and Rocky Mountains. It is also found in eastern Siberia, but is not as widespread in Eurasia as other Anemone species such as A. narcissiflora and A. multifida.

The smallflowered anemone lives in a variety of habitats including rocky slopes, meadows, streamsides, and arctic tundra. It may live from sea level to 3800 meters (over 12,000 feet).

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
SuperdivisionEmbryophyta 
DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
SubdivisionSpermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
ClassMagnoliopsida 
SuperorderRanunculanae 
OrderRanunculales 
FamilyRanunculaceae (buttercups, boutons d’or, crowfoot)
GenusAnemone L. (anemone)
SpeciesAnemone parviflora Michx. (smallflowered anemone)

References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg. 65

Classification and Taxonomy

Anemone parviflora Michx. Taxonomic Serial No.: 18433, ITIS Database

Uses

Hao, D., Gu, X., & Xiao, P. (2017). Anemone medicinal plants: Ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and biology. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B, 7(2), 146-158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsb.2016.12.001

Anemone narcissiflora : Narcissus Wind-flower, Central Yukon Species Inventory Project (CYSIP)

Map and Distribution

Anemone parviflora, GBIF Database

Description and Information

Anemone parviflora, Flora of North America

Anemone narcissiflora : Narcissus Wind-flower, Central Yukon Species Inventory Project (CYSIP)

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