Anemone richardsonii

Anemone richardsonii is the only yellow-flowered species found in northern climates. The occurrence map from the USDA PLANTS database is somewhat deceptive, as it shows Alaska and most of Canada. While accurate, it isn’t as precise as the distribution map for Anemone richardsonii from the Flora of North America, which demonstrates far more clearly that this is a species of northern climates. In addition to northern North America, yellow thimbleweed or yellow anemone is also native to Greenland and parts of Eurasia.

Found in somewhat open areas (FNA notes: thickets, moist woods, meadows, slopes; 20-2200 m), the plant in today’s photograph was growing in a wet seep area at lower elevations of Pink Mountain in northeastern British Columbia. The population of 75 or so plants was the only one we noticed during the 4-5 days I was there. Another botanical description of the species is available from the Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and many more images from E-Flora British Columbia.

Its specific epithet, richardsonii, is in honour of Scotland-born surgeon-naturalist Sir John Richardson–a fascinating and accomplished person. In addition to seemingly having every fifth species of plant in northern Canada named after him (well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there are many), as an icthyologist he described 43 genera and over 200 species of fish. He was the surgeon-naturalist on the first two of Franklin’s expeditions to the northern reaches of North America; when Franklin’s third (ill-fated) expedition did not return, he traveled by canoe from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to the mouth of Mackenzie River–a distance of 3800 km / 2350 miles as the crow flies–in 3 months. In 1848. At age 60. Yet more impressive, in order to see the Arctic spring bird migration in 1827 on the Saskatchewan River, he walked from Great Slave Lake to Fort Carlton (where he was to meet his assistant, Drummond). This was a distance of over 1450km / 900 miles. He made the journey in 50 days. From December 25 to February 12. Read more: C. Stuart Houston’s account of Sir John Richardson in Arctic Profiles (PDF).

Anemone richardsonii

12 responses to “Anemone richardsonii”

  1. annie morgan

    Most interesting information re Richardson and his connection to the lovely flower.
    Happy Christmas, and may your computers all behave in 2011.

  2. Bob Klips

    Wow! A yellow anemone! And such an hardy and intrepid explorer Richardson was. He deserves all the stuff named after him. (Someone just named a spider after Neil Young!)Fascinating.

  3. Sue Webster

    What an incredible and fascinating man Richardson was! I wonder if there’s a statue of him somewhere, he deserves it!

  4. chris czajkowski

    Download of the sign-in page is too slow! (I am on satellite internet.)
    Yellow anemone is one of my favourites. It is one of the first spring flowers at Nuk Tessli, which is 5,000 feet high and just north of the 52 degree latitude. First flowers are in full sun, later ones in quite a lot of shade (all are boggy sites .)22 years ago, when I first arrived up there, it was quite rare but in recent years it has spread quite a bit. There are no noticeable seeds so I presume it spreads through runners.

  5. Janeal Thompson

    Is there an explanation as to why it is the ONLY yellow flower to bloom in northern climates? Your photos and writings are so interesting and informative, and much appreciated here. Best of the Holidays to you and yours.
    Janeal Thompson
    Lamar, CO

  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Oops… I meant to write “only yellow-flowered species of Anemone in northern climates”.
    There are relatively few yellow-flowered species of Anemone overall, and I’m afraid I don’t know why a few have evolved that way.

  7. Janeal Thompson

    Thanks for your prompt reply.

  8. paion

    Don’t you mean “Anemone richardsonii is the only yellow-flowered species found in northern climates IN NORTH-AMERICA”? A. ranunculoides occurs well above the Arctic circle, see for example the distribution map from “Den Virtuella Floran”:

  9. Daniel Mosquin

    Huh, thanks paion. I knew of Anemone ranunculoides, but didn’t realize that it also went that far north. I was basing that sentence on the description from the Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

  10. Derek Roff

    You may already be regretting the wording of your opening sentence 🙂 I, too, am interested in more details about north-growing, yellow-flowered anemones in North America. How far north did you have in mind, when you wrote “northern climates”? I’m now curious as to both the name and the northern limit of the second place finisher for northern yellow anemones, and the northern limit and color for non-yellow anemones in North America.

  11. Daniel Mosquin

    Dave, you can have a look at occurrences of Anemone species in North America using the maps from the USDA PLANTS database – Anemone. As far as I can tell, Anemone richardsonii is the only yellow-flowered native Anemone north of Mexico (apparently non-native Anemone ranunculoides can be found in Quebec).
    Anemone obtusiloba is sometimes yellow-flowered, and it is a species of the Himalayas. But I suspect Anemone ranunculoides takes second place… though I guess I’d need to confirm with Scandinavian and Russian floras!

  12. amir

    Minus one petal and it is talinum caffrum. delightful.

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