anemone (ənĕmˈənē) [key] or windflower, any of the perennial herbs, wild or cultivated, of the genus Anemone of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family). A rich legendary history has gained the anemone many names and attributes. It is said to have sprung from the blood of Adonis; Romans considered it valuable in preventing fever; it has been applied for bruises and freckles; for some it is tainted with evil; and by the Chinese it has been associated with death. The name windflower is accounted for in several ways, one of which is Pliny's statement that anemone blossoms are opened by the wind. Anemones contain an acrid compound called anemonin. It is poisonous but was formerly used medicinally. Best known of the wild kinds are the white- or purplish-flowered wood anemone ( A. quinquefolia ), sometimes known specifically as windflower, and the greenish-white-flowered tall anemone, or thimbleweed ( A. virginiana ), with thimble-shaped fruit. The most common cultivated kinds include the tall, autumn-flowering Japanese anemone ( A. japonica ) for gardens and the florists' poppy anemones ( A. coronaria ), native to the Mediterranean area. Similar to the anemone is the wild rue anemone of another buttercup-family genus ( Anemonella or Syndesmon ). The pasqueflower is sometimes included in Anemone. Anemones are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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