With various wildflowers popping up prematurely this winter—yes, in spite of the warm temperatures it’ll still officially be winter for seven more weeks—I was on the lookout for a certain species whose normal bloom period in Austin begins in February: Anemone berlandieri, known as ten-petaled anemone, ten-petal thimbleweed, and wind-flower. When I was on my jaunt along the west side of Mopac on February 1st I finally found my first anemone of the season, which you see here. This specimen had petals that are near the purple end of the species’ color range; individuals can have much fainter coloring, even to the point of looking almost white.
The vernacular names for this species don’t pass truth-in-advertising muster. Even children, as long as they’re old enough to know how to count, can look at this flower and tell us that there are more than ten petals. And botanists, who have parlayed their childhood fascination with flowers into a complicated science, step in and tell us that in this species there are no true petals: the “petals” are technically sepals. Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing that there’s no Santa Claus, either.
For more information, including a map showing the many places in the Southeast where Anemone berlandieri grows, and where Santa Claus is known to have visited in December, you can visit the USDA website.
In one of the comments, Pablo Buitrago spoke about the details in this photograph, so I’ve added the icon below; click on it to see an enlargement of the “thimble” at the center of the anemone.
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman