Documenting Diverstiy at the Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area
Thalictrum thalictroides, Rue Anemone
Common Name: Rue Anemone
There are many ways to go about identifying a wildflower, many of which
revolve around the flower itself. The rue anemone, unlike
many other flowers, has a varying number of what appear to be petals
(they are actually sepals); there can be anywhere between 5 to 10 of
them1. These sepals can be either white or pink; reportedly,
white is much more common4, but there seemed to be more pink than white
within Ordway. Within the flower, the stamens are yellow and
The leaves can also provide key information for
identifying flowers. The rue anemone has very distinct leaves,
with two forms of them. On the stems which end in flowers, the
leaves have three lobes on the end, which roughly resemble an animal
paw; on the stems which don’t end in flowers, the leaves can have
additional lobes1. In either case, the sections of the stem
carrying the leaves come together in whorls, usually in groups of three
or four2. The stems are smooth, and the whole plant usually grows
to a height of 10 to 30 cm (or 4-8 inches)5.
The rue anemone is able to tolerate shade, and as such lives in
forested environments. It is one of the first flowers to bloom in
the springtime, opening in March and blooming until June2. The
plant is developed commercially, as the flowers themselves can be quite
attractive3. The plants are poisonous to humans when consumed in
large amounts, but there appear to be some health benefits associated
with them3. In particular, the Cherokee used infusions of the
plant as a cure for vomiting and diarrhea2.
The rue anemone, being an angiosperm, gives rise to seeds which, in
turn, give rise to the sporophyte plant itself. However, the
plant is a perennial; this means that the plant will live several
years, and will not flower every year. Seeds planted will flower
in their second or third year3.
The rue anemone is found throughout much of the eastern United States,
as well as parts of Ontario, Canada. It is found all along the
East Coast, from Maine to Florida, and as far west as parts of Kansas,
Oklahoma, and Texas. Their northwestern limit is
Minnesota. It is not present on any other continent. While
it is not a protected species federally, a few states have given it a
form of protected status; Florida lists it as endangered, New Hampshire
as threatened, Maine as possibly extirpated, and Rhode Island lists it
as a species of special concern6.
The specimen was collected on April 15, 2010, at the Katherine Ordway
Natural History Study Area in Inner Grove Heights, MN. The patch
of woods the specimen was collected from is right next to the railroad
tracks, and the flowers were growing along a trail. There was
significant leaf litter around the area, and the area was dry.
Discover Life in America. 2010.
Flora of North America. 2010. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=233501276
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. 2010. http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=thth2
Minnesota Wildflowers. 2010. http://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/rue-anemone
Robert W. Freckman Herbarium. 2010. http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=thatha
USDA NRCS PLANTS Profile. 2010. #http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=THTH2
Additionally, there is a pressing of the plant available.
Compiled by Matthew Vance.
Biodiversity & Evolution (BIOL 270) Professr Sarah Boyer. Spring 2010.
Specimen collected at Macalester College’s Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area on April 15, 2010.