Anemones are unusual looking flowers known for their ability to predict rain. The old wives tale says when an anemone’s petal closes up a storm is on its way! Because it grows well in zones 4-9, it is a popular choice for gardeners.
The Greek derivative of anemone, anemos, means wind, which is why it is often referred to as the “wind flower”. Many symbolic references to anemones also talk about death because of their interesting history. They have often been linked to the forsaken or those left behind because of the myth of Adonis and Aphrodite.
Adonis and Aphrodite have a great love story that inspired writers like Ovidius and Shakespeare. One day, Adonis was hunting through the forest followed by Aphrodite in her chariot. Ares, Aphrodite’s ex-lover, grew jealous of her relationship with the mortal and attacked him disguised as a boar.
Aphrodite covered his wound in nectar and carried his body out of the woods in an attempt to save him, but his soul had already departed to the underworld. The crimson anemones were said to have grown where each drop of blood and nectar landed. The anemone’s association with the mythic love of Aphrodite and Adonis led to the flower symbolizing unfading love.
Meanings in different cultures:
- According to Christianity, anemones are a symbol of the blood Jesus shed on the cross.
- In the Near East, the flowers were believed to carry disease and bad luck.
- Europeans used to hold their breath through anemone fields because they believed anemones carried bad omens and misfortune.
- In a more charming tale, the English and Irish believed the flower’s petals closed when fairies were sleeping inside.
- The Chinese associate the red anemone with death.
While similar in appearance and closely related, the anemone is a separate genus from the pasque flower and grows wild throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. There are over 200 types of flowers that belong to the anemone genus. Because of its prevalence across North America, Europe, Japan and other parts of Asia, it is difficult to pick a point of origin.
Anemones were once used to treat stomach cramps and menstrual pain. Ancient Romans also ground the flower and used it to treat fever, bruises and freckles. While some varietals are poisonous, in small doses they are thought to help many ailments. Unless you are very familiar with botany, avoid consumption!