Although closely related and frequently lumped together, the anemone flower is a separate genus from the hepatica and pasque genera. They are similar in appearance, and are all members of the ranunculaceae – or buttercup – family; however, anemones carry a much larger group of species – roughly 120 in number. Anemones grow wild throughout Japan, North America and Europe, and vary in their growth patterns. These flowers are divided into three distinct groups that tend to dictate their growing habits. These groups include the larger fall flowering varieties, which grow from early summer to late fall, and generally have fibrous roots; the spring flowering varieties, which bloom from either tubers or rhizomes; and the tuberous Mediterranean types, which blossom during spring and summer. The heads of these flowers tend to sprout between 4 to 27 sepals and come in colors of red, blue, white, purple and, infrequently, yellow.
The anemone flower is unquestionably one of the more delicate and beautiful blossoms grown today; however, they are also steeped in myth and touted for their uses. The origin of the anemone flower’s name is a perfect example of its place in mythological history. The red anemone flower is often associated with the death of Adonis, who was stabbed by the sharp tusks of a wild boar. Aphrodite – the beloved of Adonis – heard his cry and ran to him. She found that, as he died, the anemones around his body turned from a crisp white to a shocking red. She then named these blossoms the windflower – namely because the same wind that gently opens the flower will also blow away the faded petals, thus representing the transitory nature of her lover’s life. The anemone flower is also considered a medicinal plant. Although these flowers can be poisonous to both animals and humans, they are thought – in small doses – to aid in a variety of ailments. Most notably, a decoction of the flower and roots may be used for delayed menstruation and painful cramps. They may also be used to treat inflammation of the eyes, troubled skin or respiratory problems.
Anemones have a large assortment of symbolism tied to them. They are thought to represent anticipation and unfading love, good luck and protection against evil. As a gift, these flowers may be meaningful in a number of ways, from presenting them to someone stepping into a new stage of life, to telling the recipient that you will always love them.