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How the Anemone Got It's Name

Updated on November 11, 2012
Anemone blanda
Anemone blanda | Source

Every plant has a story behind it's name. The anemone is no exception. Here is the story of how the anemone got it's name.

The botanical name of the plant is Anemone. It is in the family Ranunculaceae.

The anemones are also called "windflowers." It is possible that this is because they grew on windy sites. The word anemos is Greek for "wind." The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper quoted Pliny when he wrote, "the flowers never open but when the wind bloweth".

Another theory is that Anemone is derived from the word "Naamen." It is Persian for "Adonis." Anemones are associated with Adonis. When he was born, Aphrodite fell quite passionately in love with him. She hid him in the underworld to save him from harm. However, Zeus forced her to share him with the underworld goddess, Persephone.

Species: Anemone canadensis Family: Ranunculaceae
Species: Anemone canadensis Family: Ranunculaceae | Source

Adonis would not listen to Aphrodite when she warned him of the dangers of hunting. So, she followed him in her chariot drawn by swans. Even though she followed him, he was still gored by a large boar. Aphrodite arrived just in time to hold him in her arms, weeping while he died.

There are two versions as to the ending of this story. One is that the anemone grew from Aphrodite's tears. Another version is that the flower sprouted from his blood that had soaked into the ground. No matter which ending you prefer, the anemone has become the symbol of protective love that could not protect and of adventurous youth that lost it's life.

There are several theories about breeding anemones. Van Oosten, a Dutch herbalist, claimed the flowers would grow double blossoms if the wind was blowing in a southerly direction when the seeds were sown. Another story claims the French version of the flower was stolen by a parliamentary office from a Parisian breeder who refused to share them.

Anemones are a lovely addition to any planting. They come in many colors and can grow in a variety of environments. It can be enjoyable to know how the names of the plants in your gardens were derived.


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