While tromping around the woods, wandering from one muddy spot to the next looking for footprints (really hoping to find a fine bear print) I happened on this perfect specimen of Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia).
A spring flower of the northeast, it likes moist woods and streamsides, which is where I found this one. If it makes you think of a white buttercup, don’t be surprised. It is in the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Another common name, Windflower, might come from the fact that the stems are slender and the flowers tremble in the slightest breeze. Literature reveals other references to wind (these probably referring to the European species A. nemorosa).
Greek legends say that Anemos, the Wind, sends his namesakes the Anemones, in the earliest spring days as the heralds of his coming. Pliny affirmed that they only open when the wind blows, hence their name of Windflower, and the unfolding of the blossoms in the rough, windy days of March has been the theme of many poets:
‘Coy anemone that ne’er uncloses
Her lips until they’re blown on by the wind.’
Culpepper also uses the word ‘windflower.’ In Greek mythology it sprang from the tears of Venus, as she wandered through the woodlands weeping for the death of Adonis –
‘Where streams his blood there blushing springs a rose
And where a tear has dropped, a wind-flower blows.’ (source)