Common name: Thimbleweed, Tall Anemone
|Photo by Jenny Meyer|
|Division:||Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants|
|Class:||Magnoliopsida - Dicots|
|Natural range of Anemone virginiana from USDA NRCS Plants Database.|
Varieties: Anemone virginiana Linnaeus var. virginiana. ranges throughout the southeast. Weakley states that a more northern variety, Anemone virginiana Linnaeus var. alba (Oakes) Alph. Wood., "might be expected in n. VA, especially in river scour situations," but the Flora of Virginia does not list var. alba.
Anemone virginiana (common name Thimbleweed or Tall Anemone) is a perennial wildflower in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, with a bloom period from May to August and a height of 1-3 feet. Its erect, multiple stems, rising 2-3 ft., are topped by a greenish-white flower with a slightly elongated center resembling a short thimble. After frost, the thimble matures to a cottony tuft. Leaves are deeply cut and clustered in a whorl halfway up the stem. The distinctive, thimble-shaped group of pistils accounts for the common name. 
Anemone virginiana is widely distributed throughout the eastern United States and the Midwest, in dry to mesic forests, rocky woodlands, barrens, old fields, and clearings, mainly on moderately to strongly base-rich soils. While common in the mountains and Piedmont, it is infrequent in the Coastal Plain. 
In Virginia, Anemone virginiana has been observed in the rare Coastal Plain Dry Calcareous Forests communities (NatureServe:G1, critically imperiled), including at Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve.  Similar forests range from Maryland to South Carolina.  In South Carolina, Anemone virginia was observed as part of the calciphile plant communities in the Limestone Cliff-Marl Forest of Old Santee Canal State Park.  Calcareous soils in the Coastal Plain are rare, but do exist in areas containing fossiliferous, calcareous shell deposits, found in geologic formations created during the Tertiary Era. When these formations are close to the surface, or when streams or rivers have down-cut into them, nutrient rich, circumneutral soils develop that favor plant growth and the development of unique calcareous plant communities. 
Conservation, cultivation, and restoration
Anemone virginiana is cultivated for native plant gardens, where it is said to attract bees and songbirds. 
In the Coastal Plain, Anemone virginiana has been proposed as a calcium-indicator species, providing a reliable means of locating calcareous substrates when the species is located in the field. 
References and notes
- Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States by Alan S. Weakley and the Southeastern Flora Team, Edition of April 13, 2022, 
- Virginia Botanical Associates. (2022). Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora . c/o Virginia Botanical Associates, Blacksburg.
- Weakley, A. S., Ludwig, J. C., Townsend, J. F., & Crowder, B. (2012). Flora of Virginia. Fort Worth, Tex: Botanical Research Institute of Texas Press.
- Soblo, D. 1989. The vascular flora of Givhans Ferry State Park and Old Santee Canal State Park. Master's Thesis, Clemson University, Clemson S.C.
- McAvoy, W. A., and J. W. Harrison. 2012. Plant community classification and the flora of Native American shell-middens on the Delmarva Peninsula. The Maryland Naturalist 52(1):1-34.
- Hill, Steven R. “Calciphiles and Calcareous Habitats of South Carolina.” Castanea, vol. 57, no. 1, 1992, pp. 25–33. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4033847. Accessed 21 May 2022.