All About Anemone – History, Meaning, Facts, Care & More

Have you heard the old wives tale about anemone flowers? Our ancestors used to predict the rain using anemone flowers. It is said that when an anemone’s petals close up then a storm is on its way. Today, anemones are popular among gardeners and florists.

History of Anemone Flowers

The Ancient Romans used to ground anemones and used it for treatment of freckles, bruises, and the common fever. There are also Greek legends about anemone flowers. But it’s hard to point out exactly where anemones originate.

Anemones grow wild throughout the Northern Hemisphere. There are currently more than 200 types of flowers belonging to the anemone genus. The different types of anemones are native to European countries but are also cultivated in North America as well as in certain parts of Asia including Japan.

The anemone flower was first named and described by Carl Thunberg in 1784. Thunberg collected dried specimens of anemones while he worked as a doctor at the Dutch East Indies Company. In 1844, Scottish plant collector Robert Fortune brought anemone flowers to England from China. He noticed the plant was often seen around graves in China.

Legends about Anemone Flowers

Anemone comes from the Greek name anemos which means wind. This is the reason why it is also called windflower. There are various Greek mythologies about anemone flowers. One such story says that every Greek god has a cardinal direction. The weather, seasons, and direction of the wind are what the idea of anemos is about.

There is also another more popular Greek story that has been a source of inspiration to writers like Shakespeare and Ovidius. It tells of a love story between Adonis and Aphrodite. As the story goes, Adonis was out hunting in the forest one day and was attacked by a boar who was really Ares, the ex-lover of Aphrodite. Ares became jealous which proved him to kill Adonis.

But, Aphrodite followed Adonis in her chariot and attempted to save him. She covered his wound with nectar and brought his body out of the woods. But, it was too late as the mortal Adonis’s soul already departed to the underworld. As the legend would have it, each drop of blood with nectar that landed on the ground caused crimson anemones to grow.

A different version of the legend has Adonis killed by a bull while he was hunting. He died in Aphrodite’s arms and the blood that dropped on the ground grew anemone flowers.

Another story noted that anemone flowers were once white and turned red when Adonis’s blood dropped on them. Still another version of the legend says that anemone flowers sprang from Aphrodite’s tears for Adonis.

Characteristics of Anemone Flowers

Anemones are perennial plants that bloom in springtime. There are now more than 120 species of the plant grouped into three types: large fall flowering anemones, tuberous Mediterranean anemones, and spring flowering anemones.

Its flowers grow at around 3 to 8 cm in diameters. There are single-bloomed anemones as well as double-bloomed anemone flowers with 5 to 6 petals each. There are different colors of anemone blossoms including white, silver-pink, rose red, scarlet, coral, rust, copper, purple, yellow, and blue. The anemone plant’s foliage is medium to dark green.

Anemone Flower Facts

  • Some varietals of anemone flowers are poisonous while other species of the plant may help heal ailments such as menstrual cramps and even emotional problems.
  • Anemone flowers do not have a scent.
  • The anemone plant does not have nectar and does not attract bees.
  • Anemone flowers are also called ‘windflower,’ ‘smellfox’ and ‘crowfoot’.
  • The Japanese anemone is native to China but was naturalized in Japan.

Meanings of Anemone Flowers

Because of this Greek legend, anemone flowers carry different meanings. It is a flower often given as funeral flowers or sympathy flowers as it is associated with those who are left behind like Aphrodite when Adonis died. Their mythic love also led to anemones conveying the message of unfading love. Be careful to convey the right message at it can sometimes mean forsaken love. In flower symbolism, anemone flowers symbolize fragileness.

Different colors of anemone flowers also carry different symbolisms. Red and pink anemones are symbolic of death and forsaken love. White anemone flowers convey sincerity and purple anemone flowers mean protection from evil.

Cultural Meanings of Anemone Flowers

  • Anemone flowers are symbolic in Christianity of the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross.
  • Europeans used to hold their breath when passing through anemone fields as they believed anemone flowers can mean misfortune and carry bad omens.
  • In the Near East, anemone flowers are believed to bring bad luck and disease.
  • In Chinese culture, red anemones are called the flowers of death.
  • Egyptians also associate anemone flowers with sickness.
  • The Irish and English believed that anemone’s petals that are closed have fairies sleeping inside.

Growing and Caring for Anemone Flowers

Most anemone plants are easy to care for. They can be a challenge to cultivate but once they are planted, they will thrive easily. Here are some things you should know about planting anemone flowers:

  • Cut anemone flowers last up to 3 days.
  • It is best planted in October.
  • It thrives in partial sunlight in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
  • Propagation of this plant is by the roots.
  • Anemone bulbs are soaked overnight before planting.
  • They should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep into the ground and 4 to 6 inches apart.
  • Anemone flowers bloom from spring to fall.
  • Some species of anemones, like the meadow anemone, grow vigorously and spread quickly making them unsuitable for small gardens as such kind of anemone can become invasive.
  • Avoid excess water which can decompose the bulbs.
  • Fertilize anemone plants with compost or peat moss.
  • Remove the foliage in winter when anemone slips into dormancy.