Columbian windflowers (Anemone deltoidea) were growing prolifically in May along the South Fork Trail at Prairie Creek National/State Redwood Park in Northwest California.
A member of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae), Columbian windflowers are native perennials found in California, Oregon and Washington. Their ecology is moist forests and glades from low to mid elevations.
The plant grows from slender, creeping rhizomes. The single, basal leaf has three egg-shaped leaflets that are deeply and coarsely toothed. The three sessile (no stalk) stem leaves form a whorl below the flower. Columbian windflower flowers occur singly on long stalks and have 5 white, petal-like sepals, no true petals and many stamens. The fruits are plump achenes (dry, containing a single seed), hairless above and hairy on the lower portion.
Columbian windflowers are also commonly known as three-leaved anemone and western white anemone. They have minor toxicity and can cause contact dermatitis in some people when handled.
A carpet of Columbian windflowers provides a bright spot in deep shade while hiking through the redwoods.