By Janelle Eklund
It was early summer and as I scoured the roadside for new plants coming up I spotted a small cluster of lacy leaves giving rise to single cream colored flowers at the tip of their stems. A whorl of leaves danced around the stem a few inches or less below the flower. The petals were closed and looked like folded hands in prayer. A wooly veil of hairs covered the plant from head to toe - including the flower! I was surprised to see just this one cluster and no others in sight close by. Every day I walked by them I was hoping to catch them with open flowers of smiley faces greeting the sun. But alas, the mornings were cool and I never did catch them in their open praises. One day, my friend and I stopped by on our way back from somewhere to say hello to the plant and she helped make a positive identification. As time went on I noticed other little colonies, and some growing singly, making their appearance a short distance down the road.
This Anemone can wear different colors of flower dresses but not on the same plant - cream to yellowish and pink.
Plants of the Western Boreal Forest and Aspen Parkland says that "Anemones contain ranunculin, a harmless glycoside that produces protoanemonin, a volatile, strongly irritant, unstable oil. The leaves of most species are irritating, and have been boiled to make a strong tea used to kill fleas and lice." I suspect the leaves are irritating because of all those wooly hairs.
The www.efloras.org web site says: "Native Americans used Anemone multifida (no varieties specified) medicinally as an antirheumatic, cold remedy, nosebleed cure, and general panacea, as well as a means of killing lice and fleas (D. E. Moerman 1986)".
Since this plant is not real prolific in the area I suggest to search for it in its variety of colors and only take from the plant lessons in its prayer and praises.
From my light to yours-
References: Plants of the Western Boreal Forest and Aspen Parkland by Johnson, Kershaw, MacKinnon, Pojar; www.efloras.org
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.