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Species Spotlight

Desert Anemone

by Doug Moore

Abundant seasonal rainfall is bringing promise of a fine spring wildflower show. Unless the bloom is thwarted by frost, March should be a great time to look for flowers along White House Road and in the lower reaches of Madera Canyon .
One of the earliest flowers to appear is Desert Anemone, Anemone tuberosa, also called wind flower. At first glance appearing like a showy white daisy with a pale pink blush, this plant is actually in the buttercup family. A perennial, Desert Anemone sprouts pinnately compound basal leaves and erect stems from a tuber-like root. An additional whorl of three leaves divides the stems from slender stem-like peduncles bearing each solitary flower.
Desert Anemone flowers consist of a central cone of many female pistols encircled by male stamens and all surrounded by a ring of elliptical petal-like sepals. As pollination occurs, the pistols ripen into many flat, scale-like fruits, called achenes, each containing a seed and arranged into a cylindrical fruiting body. When fully mature and dry, the achenes detach and are dispersed by the wind. Stems and leaves eventually wilt, succumbing to heat and dryness, but the tuber remains alive, but dormant, underground awaiting the next wet fall and winter.
A good place to see Desert Anemone is along the paved trail at Proctor along with Gold Poppies, Phacelia, and Globe Mallow.

Photo by Doug Moore