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Carolina Anemone (Anemone caroliniana)

Life history

Species overview

Carolina Anemone (Anemone caroliniana), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found in dry bluff and sand prairies and gravelly hillsides, mostly near the Mississippi and lower Chippewa Rivers. Blooming occurs early April through late May; fruiting occurs late May through late June. The optimal identification period for this species is throughout May.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: The combination of the highly dissected leaves and the numerous (greater than 10) sepals distinguish this species.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers medium to large in size (2.5 to 4 cm wide); petals absent; sepals petal-like, 10 to 20, white to purple-colored.
  • Fruit characteristics: Fruiting head is narrowly elipse-like in shape and 13 to 20 mm in size; seed woolly.
  • Leaf characteristics: Deeply palmately divided basal leaves and a whorl of 3 stalkless cauline (stem) leaves at or below the middle of the flowering stem.


  • Blooming phenology: early April through late May
  • Fruiting phenology: late May through late June
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is throughout May


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Andropogon scoparius, Bouteloua hirsuta, Chrysopsis villosa, Liatris aspera, L. punctata, Penstemon grandiflorus, Delphinium virescens, Tradescantia bracteata, Juniperus virginiana.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Carolina Anemone (Anemone caroliniana). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Anemone caroliniana in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in dry bluff and sand prairies and gravelly hillsides, mostly near the Mississippi and lower Chippewa Rivers.
  • Soils: Dry, sandy or gravelly soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Carolina Anemone. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Dry Prairie 3
Sand Prairie 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Carolina Anemone. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Western Coulee and Ridges 3
Western Prairie 3

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes in open sandy areas dominated by native grasses.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.
  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).


Carolina Anemone Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Carolina Anemone Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Carolina Anemone Photo.

Carolina anemone is extremely rare in Wisconsin, it occurs only in a few counties in the westcentral part of the state.

Photo © Kitty Kohout.

Carolina Anemone Photo.

Photo © Kitty Kohout.

Carolina Anemone Photo.

Photo © Kitty Kohout.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition