This section is from the book "The Native Flowers And Ferns Of The United States ", by Thomas Meehan. Also available from Amazon: The Native Flowers and Ferns of the United States in Their Botanical, Horticultural, And Popular Aspects.
Anfmone Caroliniana, Walter
Stem slender, one-flowered; peduncle many times longer than the small, sessile, three-leaved, three-toothed involucre; radical leaves two to three, long-petioled, ternate, deeply parted, lobed and toothed; sepals fourteen to twenty, oblong, white; achenia numerous in a cylindrical-oblong head, woolly; stems six to twelve inches high; flowers one inch in diameter. (Chapman's Flora of the Southern United State's. See also Gray's Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States, Wood's Class-Booh of Botany, and Torrey and Gray's Flora of North America.)
THE reader who will carefully compare Dr. Chapman's description with our plate cannot fail to be startled by the discrepancy in regard to the color of the flower; for while he distinctly and unequivocally states the color to be white, our illustration as unmistakably shows it to be violet or purple. The discrepancy will be readily understood, however, by those who are accustomed to deal with flowers. Variations in color are frequently found, and the Anemone Caroliniana affords a good example. This also explains why the various authors differ so widely in speaking of the flower. Thus, Dr. Gray says, "purple or whitish"; Prof. Wood, "white or rose-coloivd, . . . outer sepals dotted with purple"; and Torrey and Gray, "white, often tinged or spotted with purple." The beautiful specimen from which our drawing was made, and which was kindly sent to us from Western Kansas by Mr. Sternberg, makes it evident that still another must be added to this list of variations, namely, violet or purplish.
The Anemone is frequently mentioned in ancient Greek and Roman mythology and poetry; but from the attending circumstances, it seems that the various stories with which the name is connected relate to different species of the genus. The sad tale, for instance, of the fair maiden who fell in love with Zephyr, and was banished from her court by Flora, and finally destroyed by the rude blasts of Boreas, seems to be most in accord with the character of the Wind-Flower or Anemone nemorosa; while the flower which is involved in the story of Venus and Adonis must evidently have been more brilliant in color, and somewhat like our own Anemone Caroliniana. It is well known that Venus, or Aphrodite, as the Greeks called her, was enamored of a beautiful mortal, a youth named Adonis, and that when Adonis had been killed by a wild boar while hunting, Venus caused flowers to spring up out of the blood of her lover. This version of the creation of Anemone is related by Ovid, the celebrated Roman poet, in the tenth book of his "Metamorphoses," and has been translated into English by Eusden as follows: "'For thee, lost youth, my tears and restless pain Shall in immortal monuments remain; With solemn pomp, in annual rites return'd, Be thou forever, my Adonis, mourn'd. Could Pluto's queen with jealous fury storm, And Menthe to a fragrant herb transform, Yet dares not Venus with a change surprise, And in a flower bid her fallen hero rise?' Then on the blood sweet nectar she bestows; The scented blood in little bubbles rose, - Little as rainy drops which fluttering fly, Borne by the winds, along a lowering sky. Short time ensued till, where the blood was shed, A flower began to rear its purple head.
Still here the fate of lovely forms we see, So sudden fades the sweet anemone."
Shakespeare also, in his poem entitled "Venus and Adonis," mentions this myth: "By this, the boy that by her side lay killed Was melted like a vapor from her sight; And in his blood, that on the ground lay spilled, A purple flower sprang up, chequered with white."
It will be noticed that Ovid's "purple head" agrees quite well with the variety represented by our drawing, while Shakespeare's "purple, chequered with white," answers tolerably well to Torrey and Gray's "white, spotted with purple."
We must, however, break through the spell of these poetical illusions, which have carried us far away to the sunny lands of Greece and Italy, and return to the truth of reality by remembering that our Anemone Caroliniana cannot be absolutely identical with the flower born from the blood of Adonis, as it is specifically American. It differs from many of its kindred also in its places of growth; for while some Anemones prefer to grow-in the recesses of deep forests, and while the delieate A. nemo-rosa seeks the shade of scattered woods, the Caroliniana delights in open places, and in the full blaze of the western sun. If we may be permitted once more to indulge in a poetical revery, we might almost imagine our flower as fleeing from the dangerous localities which, in their cosy seclusion, are so well fitted to be the abodes of lovers, and seeking the broad light of day, so as to avoid the sad fate which befell her unfortunate sister, whom she had seen "Loving with all the wild devotion, That deep and passionate emotion; Loving with all the snow-white truth That is found but in early youth; Freshness of feeling, as of flower, That lives not more than spring's first hour."
We have just said that the Carolina Anemone delights in the blaze of the western sun, and indeed its geographical range extends across the plains to the base of the Rocky Mountains, and thence takes a southerly course (if Mr. Watson's view be adopted, that it is the same as A. decapetala), through Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, to Peru, Chili, and Brazil. This shows that its geographical centre must be to the south, while the centres of most other common kinds of Anemone lie towards the north. It also becomes evident from this that the name of the plant is not very aptly chosen, as its range extends far beyond the limits of the Carolinas.
The root-structure of our species is worthy of a more complete study than we have been able to give to it. As far as we can ascertain, the travelling rhizoma, or rootstock, produces a succession of small tubers, which throw up leaves, or leaves and flowers, the season following that in which they were produced. Generally, the tuber is formed by the thickening of the end of the rhizoma, as in the potato. A rhizoma is really a stem, with this difference only, - that instead of growing above, it grows under ground. In the case of the potato, the thread-like growth of the rootstock, as soon as it has advanced six inches or so from the parent stem, thickens, and forms a tuber, which we call a potato; but occasionally this tuber will start a new growth from its apex the same season, which again thickens at its end, and from this second tuber even a third rootstock sometimes strikes out, which also forms a potato at its end, so that finally the whole assumes something of the shape of a necklace, or of large beads strung upon a string at certain intervals, the end, however, being always a tuber. Our Anemone grows in the same way. On the right-hand side of our drawing we see the remains of the root-stock growth of last year, which connected with the plant of that season. This, we believe, dies at the end of the year. We see, also, that after making one small tuber our plant started to make another, and as this second was stronger than the first, it was able to make three flowers, while the first had but one. On the left, we have the growth made since the last year's tubers threw up their leaves and flowers, and this new root-stock is also thickening for a tuber for the next season.
The Carolina Anemone, if we may judge from its western location, in a hot, dry region, will be very well adapted to garden culture. In our own garden, it has taken good care of itself for two years; and its bright, purple flowers, opening before the first of May, among the many white flowers of that season, render its presence in the garden-border very desirable indeed.