Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Carolina Anemone - Anemone caroliniana   Walter
Members of Ranunculaceae:
Members of Anemone with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Ranunculales » Family Ranunculaceae
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AuthorWalter
DistributionKnown at present only from one site in Mecklenburg County, with a transplanted population at a second site in the county. Extirpated from Stanly County (not found in 2007 survey); record(s) from Rutherford County, if correct, may be historical. A specimen from Dunn's Mountain, Rowan County (CATU) is not added to the map as there is no specimen image accompanying the record.

This is a widespread Great Plains species, ranging from MN and SD south to TX, and sparingly eastward. Spotty range from NC and TN southward, where some records might represent escapes or uncertain provenance.
AbundanceExtremely rare, and currently known from just one "natural" site -- a lawn at a churchyard! A second site has been created at a managed "Piedmont prairie" preserve, also in Mecklenburg County. This is rightfully a State Endangered species, with a State Rank of S1.
HabitatIn the main part of its range, it occurs mostly in prairies, as well as other barrens and glades, probably always over high pH soils. In NC it occurs in very thin soil in a few habitats, though it probably was originally present in thin, high pH soil of grassy openings. Unlike A. berlandieri, this species is indeed a "prairie plant" in its main range.
PhenologyBlooms from March to May, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a short member of the family, typically only about 6-9 inches tall; it may have several stems from the base. There are three-parted basal leaves, each rather finely dissected. Growing just below the middle of the stem is a whorl of cauline (stem) leaves, finely dissected and resembling the basal leaves but smaller. In the similar A. berlandieri, the stem is quite a bit taller, the cauline leaves occur above the middle of the stem, and the leaves are much more finely dissected or lobed and with entire margins. A. caroliniana has a single flower atop each stem, facing upward with 10-20 white to rarely very pale blue petal-like sepals and about 1 inch across when fully in bloom. There is a "cone" in the center of the flower, as in A. berlandieri. There is some question or confusion about some of the records, which include a few reports from vegetation plots, always a risky method for species determination (as often the plants are immature when the survey is done). It is hoped that a new, natural site or two can be found for this species in upcoming years in NC, as currently it seems to be hanging on in poor, highly managed sites.
Taxonomic CommentsNone, though records mentioned in RAB (1968) for this species -- Anson, Orange, and Rowan counties, plus the description -- actually refer to A. berlandieri.

Other Common Name(s)Prairie Anemone, Carolina Thimbleweed. The use of Carolina Anemone is an unfortunate one, as it is very rare in the Carolinas and well to the east of the main part of the range. Prairie Anemone would be better, but nearly all references use Carolina Anemone, as the scientific epithet is "caroliniana".
State RankS1
Global RankG5
State StatusE
US Status
USACE-agcp
USACE-emp
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