Aerial shoots 10-70 cm, from caudices, caudices ascending to vertical. Basal leaves 3-6(-10), 1-2-ternate; petiole (2-)4-10(-14) cm; terminal leaflet petiolulate to ±sessile, broadly and irregularly rhombic to obovate, (1.5-)2.5-4.5(-5.5) × (1-)3-10 cm, base narrowly cuneate, margins incised on distal 1/3, apex broadly acute to nearly obtuse; surfaces abaxially villous-silky, hispid to villous, or sparsely long-pilose, adaxially glabrous, nearly glabrous, villous-silky, or hispid to villous; lateral leaflets (2-)3×-parted; ultimate segments (1.5-)2-3.5(-5) mm wide. Inflorescences 2-7-flowered cymes or flowers solitary; peduncle villous, pilose, or hispid to villous; involucral bracts usually 3-5, occasionally 2 in secondary involucres, 1-2-tiered, ternate, occasionally incompletely ternate, ±similar to basal leaves, greatly reduced, bases distinct; terminal leaflet petiolulate to ±sessile, broadly and irregularly rhombic to obovate, (1.5-)3-4(-5) × 0.5-1(-2) cm, base narrowly cuneate, margins incised on distal 1/3, apex broadly acute to nearly obtuse, surfaces abaxially hispid to villous, villous-silky, or sparsely long-pilose, adaxially glabrous, nearly glabrous, hispid to villous, or villous-silky; lateral leaflets (2-)3×-parted or -lobed, lobes frequently unequal; ultimate lobes 1.5-3(-4.3) mm wide. Flowers: sepals 5-9, green to yellow, blue, purple, red, or occasionally white, or abaxially blue, red, yellow and red, or purple, or tinged purple, adaxially white, yellow, yellow and red, blue, or tinged purple, ovate to oblong, 5-17 × (3.5-)5-7(-9) mm, abaxially hairy, adaxially glabrous; stamens 50-80. Heads of achenes spheric; pedicel 6-15(-23) cm. Achenes: body irregularly ellipsoid or elliptic, flat, 3-4 × 1.5-2 mm, not winged, tomentose, woolly, or villous; beak ±straight, distally recurved or strongly hooked, 1-6 mm, glabrous.
Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., N.W.T., Nfld. and Labr. (Nfld.), Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon, Alaska, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Maine, Mich., Minn., Mont., N.Dak., N.Mex., N.Y., Nebr., Nev., Oreg., S.Dak., Utah, Vt., Wash., Wis., Wyo., South America.
Varieties 4 (4 in the flora).
G.Boraiah and M.Heimburger (1964) conducted an extensive cytotaxonomic analysis of this wide-ranging and extremely variable species and its relatives. The present treatment takes a broader view of the species (and its variation) and recognizes fewer entities. In addition, Anemone tetonensis and A. stylosa, plants treated as closely related species by G.Boraiah and M.Heimburger, are treated here as varieties of A. multifida.
Early-season plants of Anemone multifida var. multifida have solitary flowers and will key to var. saxicola. Anemone multifida var. tetonensis and especially var. saxicola might be based on characteristics that are influenced primarily by environment; further study is warranted.
Native Americans used Anemone multifida (no varieties specified) medicinally as an antirheumatic, cold remedy, nosebleed cure, and general panacea, as well as a means of killing lice and fleas (D. E. Moerman 1986).
|1||Flowers in cymes; involucral bracts 2-tiered.||> 2|
|1||Flowers solitary; involucral bracts 1-tiered.||> 5|
|2||Beak straight.||> 3|
|2||Beak recurved or hooked.||> 4|
|3||Aerial shoots (30–)40–70 cm; flowers (2–)5–7; bracts silky; sepals ovate or oblong.||Anemone multifida var. multifida|
|3||Aerial shoots (10–)20–40 cm; flowers (1–)2–3; bracts villous; sepals elliptic.||Anemone multifida var. saxicola|
|4||Beak recurved.||Anemone multifida var. tetonensis|
|4||Beak hooked.||Anemone multifida var. stylosa|
|5||Abaxial color of sepals different from adaxial color.||> 6|
|5||Abaxial color of sepals same as adaxial color.||> 7|
|6||Aerial shoots 20–40 cm; achene beak ± straight.||Anemone multifida var. saxicola|
|6||Aerial shoots 10–20(–25) cm; achene beak recurved.||Anemone multifida var. tetonensis|
|7||Sepals blue, purple, or sometimes white; achene beak recurved.||Anemone multifida var. tetonensis|
|7||Sepals purple to red, or green to red; achene beak strongly hooked distally.||Anemone multifida var. stylosa|