Anemone (windflowers)











Anemone coronaria

The genus Anemone (family Ranunculaceae) consists of 70-90 species of perennial, low growing herbs. The genus is characterized by a rosette of basal leaves, a peduncle with involucral leaves, single to compound inflorescences, perianth of petaloid sepals and achene fruit. There is considerable morphological variation in the genus. Anemones are most numerous in the Northern Hemisphere, but also occur in mountainous and cooler regions of the Southern Hemisphere. They inhabit a wide range of habitats, including arctic and alpine tundra, prairie, woodlands, Mediterannean regions, and semidesert. Base chromosome numbers are either 7 or 8. Two subgenera are recognized in the genus (Fig. 1) which correlate with the base chromosome number: Anemonidium (x=7) and Anemone (x=8).

Considerable controversy exists as to the relationship of the genera Pulsatilla, Hepatica, and Knowltonia (South Africa) to Anemone. Molecular evidence (Fig. 1 below) indicates that all these genera should be included within Anemone (the only exception may be Hepatica).

We are actively working on this genus, substantially increasing the sampling. Expect new trees and classification in the near future.

Figure 1. Single most parsimonious tree for Anemone resulting from analysis of the combined atpB-rbcL spacer and ITS data, using Clematis hexapetala as the outgroup. Informal sectional names (Hoot et al. 1994) are listed after geographical distributions. (Tree from Schuettpelz et al. 2001)


Schuettpelz, E., S. B. Hoot, R. Samuel, and F. Ehrendorfer. 2002. Multiple origins of Southern Hemisphere Anemone (Ranunculaceae) based on plastid and nuclear sequence data. Plant Systematics and Evolution 231: 142-151.

Hoot, S. B., J. D. Palmer, and A. A. Reznicek. 1994. Phylogenetic relationships in Anemone based on morphology and chloroplast DNA variation. Systematic Botany 19: 169-200.

Hoot, S. B. and J. D. Palmer. 1994. Structural rearrangements, including parallel inversions, within the chloroplast genome of Anemone and related genera. Journal of Molecular Evolution 38: 274-281.

Hoot, S. B. 1995. Phylogenetic relationships in Anemone (Ranunculaceae) based on DNA restriction site variation and morphology. Plant Systematics and Evolution (Suppl.) 9: 295-300.