On my recent trip to the Wind River in Skamania County I was somewhat disappointed to find a dearth of blooming wildflowers. At this relatively low elevation (about 1100’) the first week of May would normally be a riot of blooming wildflowers. I’m not sure whether it’s just because we’ve had a wetter and colder spring than usual, or because of the unseasonably late, low elevation snow (PDX received snow in April for the first time in its 84 year history), or a combination of both. I saw an Oemleria cerasiformis (Osoberry) in flower, and it’s been awhile since the last of these bloomed locally, although it was even more unusual that all of the many other Osoberries I looked at lacked blooms, evidence of flowering, or fruit beginning to form.
Beyond a few flowering Trillium ovatum, and a large number of Viola glabella in bloom, the only wildflowers I found were these few Anemone oregana, but boy howdy, these pretty little blue flowers were a welcome sight. This appears to be another case of a plant existing just because it can, without having many relationships with the surrounding fauna, although past experiences would indicate that early season bumble bees are quite fond of them (though I saw no pollinators of any sort around these specimens).
The Oregon anemone (also sometimes called blue windflower) is a member of the family Ranunculaceae. Since 2012 it has been suggested that many of the members of Anemone, including this one and others from our region, should be split off into separate genera. That taxonomy doesn’t seem to have found much traction, and the newest edition of ‘Flora of the Pacific Northwest’(2018) still lists them as belonging to Anemone.
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Description– Small (3-10” tall) perennial plant with a basal leaf and a stem leaf, each of which are divided into 3 toothed leaflets; flowers are singular, with 5 sepals, usually blue but sometimes purple, pink, or white, with 30-90 stamens.
Similar species-Anemone lyallii has less than 35 stamens; A. deltoidea has more than 80 stamens, and almost always has white petals.
Habitat– Shaded, moist to mesic conifer and mixed forests up to 5,000’ elevation.
Range-Western North American native; region wide in appropriate habitat.
Reproductive timing-Blooms March to June, depending on elevation.
Eaten by-I can’t find any specific references to anything eating this plant, although there are leaf mining flies in Phytomyza that are known to use other Anemone spp.; bumble bees and other pollinators visit it for nectar and pollen.
Etymology of names–Anemone comes from the Greek word for ‘daughter of wind’. This may reference the delicacy of the petals, which can be torn off by the wind, or it may be a reference to the Greek myth that anemones were created when Aphrodite mixed the blood of Adonis with nectar and sprinkled it on the ground. The specific epithet oregana refers to the locality of the type specimen.