Tall Thimbleweed, Tall Anemone, Thimbleweed
(Anemone virginiana var. virginiana)
Anemone virginiana L. is the accepted scientific name for the Tall Anemone. Both the genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Accepted Infraspecific Names: Anemone virginiana var virginiana (autonym), Anemone virginiana var. alba (Oakes) Alph.Wood, Anemone virginiana var. cylindroidea Boivin. When infraspecific taxon are named, an autonym ( “type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. I am not sure how the species and type-specimen can have different synonyms…
As of 12-13-12 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 64 species in the Anemone genus. It is a member of the plant family Ranunculaceae with 50 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made by POWO.
The above distribution map for Anenome virginiana is from Plants of the World Online. The map is for the species as a whole, including subordinate taxon. You can click on the link to view the maps for the individual varieties. The map on the USDA Plants Database is the same and you can view the other maps there as well.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I spotted this Anemone virginiana (Tall Thimbleweed) along the trail that runs along the south side of my farm on June 16 in 2021. Upon reading about the species on the Missouri Plants website, I found out specimens found in Missouri are Anemone virginiana var. virginiana. There are two other varieties found in North America that are slightly different that are found mainly in the northeast and Canada. While the same species, differences have earned them their own variety names. Missouri Plants says Anemone virginiana in Missouri flower from May-August, but the specimen I found had pretty much run its course and was almost in the fruiting stage.
Writing descriptions of plants in “layman’s” terms is sometimes very difficult. When I read technical descriptions I had to use the glossary on the Missouri Plants website to be able to understand what I was reading. As time went by, even though I understood what I was reading, I still had to refer back to the glossary to make sure I was writing descriptions correctly that made sense. I am not a botanist and I assume many of the readers of this page aren’t either.
Anemone virginiana is a rhizomatous perennial forb that grows up to 3-4 feet or so tall (depending on conditions). They prefer growing in light shade to full sun in moist, fertile soil but also grow in other soil types as well. Information also says the plants are drought tolerant. Preferences may vary between the varieties…
Plants grow from a single stem from the base and branch out toward the top. Stems have long soft hairs (pilose) toward the base which become short and point downward toward the top (antrorse). The flower stems have short antrorse and appressed hairs that lay flat against the stem.
Anemone virginiana var. virginiana (Tall Thimbleweed) on 6-16-21, #801-4.
Plants grow 1 to 8 basal leaves in 1- or 2 whorls along the stems in groups of 2-3. The leaves have hairy, long petioles with shallow adaxial grooves that can be purplish in color. The trifoliate leaves grow up to 5” long and wide and have white hair. Each leaf is divided into 2-3 deep lobes which also have 2-3 shallow lobes. The margins are toothed and the lobes end in a sharp point, but can also be kind of blunt-shaped. Hmmm…
SO, at the top of the main stem where the flower stems emerge, appear 2 or 3 opposite whorls of 3-4 involucral bracts that more or less resemble the basal leaves. The top bracts are usually about 5 to 15” (or so) below the flowers…
Now for the flowers… A single flower grows from the flower stem (petiole) with 5 white or greenish-white sepals (that resemble petals). The flower has numerous stamens (male part) with yellowish to light brown anthers (pollen part of the stamen) that surround a head of pistols (female part of the flower). The pistillate head is green and becomes larger and elongated as the sepals start to fade and fall off. The seed are distributed by the wind with wooly hair similar to milkweeds.
The above photo shows the top of the main stem where the flower stems emerge. Sorry, the photo is kind of blurry, but you can kind of see there aren’t as many hairs and they are short, antrorse (pointing downward toward the base), and appressed (laying kind of flat against the stem).
The above photo is a closer look… You can see the petioles on this set of involucral bracts have shallow adaxial grooves. The hair points toward the stem…
I will check again in 2022 to see if I can find any more of these plants growing along the trail. Maybe go several times to get better close-ups as the plants flower, produce fruit, and go to seed…
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA
(GENUS/A. virginiana/var. virginiana)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
(A. virginiana/var. virginiana)
ARKANSAS NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
(A. virginiana/var. virginiana)
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
GARDENING KNOW HOW
FINGER LAKES NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂