Rue anemone is a delicate little flower, one of the first to pop up out of the leaf litter when winter ends.
Up until this year, I would have just called these little beauties wildflowers. But back in February I read a book about cycles of growth in deciduous forests, which dedicated a whole chapter to spring ephemerals (a subgroup of woodland wildflowers). So this year I was on the lookout for ephemerals like rue anemone, spring beauty, hepatica, and bloodroot.
Spring ephemerals get their name because they come and go in a matter of weeks. Most other plants spread out their growth cycle over a much longer time frame.
At the first sign of warmer temperatures, rue anemone flowers show up in little clusters along the forest floor. Their strategy is to squeeze all their above-ground activity into the short window of time before the forest canopy fills in with leaves and prevents bright sunlight from reaching the understory.
While active above ground, they soak up the sunlight as fast as they can, absorbing energy and storing nutrients in their tuberous roots (they are also called wild potato). After the flowers are gone, the root system supports the plant while it prepares for the next year's growth underground.
I’m not scientifically inclined, so it never occurred to me that different plants would have different strategies for survival. Isn’t it interesting to think that all living things, just like you or me, have a preferred mode of living and making their way in the world?