Plants - Native Plants and Wildflowers

Natural selection: Rue anemone

This southern Ontario native creates a beautiful carpet on the forest floor

Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)
* Zone 5
* Native to southern Ontario and the eastern U.S.

One of our loveliest flowers, rue anemone was classified by Linnaeus in 1753 as a member of the Anemone clan. Since 1839, however, when Édouard Spach moved it into its own monospecific genus, it has been known as Anemonella thalictroides, that is, a petite anemone-like plant that resembles Thalictrum (or meadow rue). However, recent DNA tests have proved that rue anemone actually belongs in the genus Thalictrum—call it third time lucky.

Rue anemone’s small, tuberous roots give rise to 10- to 20-centimetre-tall flower stems with umbels of three to six white or pink flowers, each with five to 10 sepals. Dainty and delicate, when grown in its preferred woodland conditions it will spread modestly but reso­lutely. In areas with hot, dry summers, rue anemone dies down and goes dormant after flowering in spring; in bloom for up to six weeks, it associates well with other diminutive natives, such as hepaticas, trilliums and dog’s-tooth violets.

Fast fact: Although rue anemone is only distantly related to the endangered false rue anemone (Enemion biternatum), both perennials are being threatened in their native woodland habitat by invasive Eurasian garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).

Want more information on native plants?
Evergreen, a national charity that makes cities more liveable, has a comprehensive Native Plant Database.

Shot on location at Wildflower Farm.


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