Blowing in the Wind

As recent followers of this series know, the Indo-European root that gave rise to Spanish alma, ánima, and ánimo, and to English animus, meant ‘to breathe.’ That root also breathed life into Greek anemos, which meant ‘wind.’ Many things in the world are windy; 19th-century Americans, for example, justifiably gave Chicago the nickname “The Windy City” because of the winds that blow in from Lake Michigan. Two millennia earlier, the ancient Greeks had turned anemos ‘wind’ into anemone, which they used as a name for a certain type of plant that grew in Greece. Spanish has rendered the Greek name in three forms: anémona, anemona, and anemone. English, especially scientific English, also uses anemone, while the English vernacular name, true to the etymology of anemone, is windflower. Species of anemone are native to many parts of the world, including Texas, from which I’m writing to you. Here’s a picture of the most common species of anemone that grows in and around Austin:

Anemone berlandieri

The American Heritage Dictionary®, which has excellent etymologies, speculates that the Greeks named this type of plant a windflower because its flower petals blow off easily in the wind. That might be the reason, but there could also be another. The elongating central column of a fertilized windflower produces seeds, each attached to a bit of fluff. Once the central column dries out, the fluff unravels and the wind soon blows it and the attached seeds on their way to the possibility of a next generation. The following picture shows what that is like.

Anemone berlandieri seeds ready to blow away in the wind

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Lo que el viento se llevó « Spanish-English Word Connections
  2. niasunset
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 06:56:39

    What a beautiful flowers… I loved your photographs, they are amazing. Especially the second one, “Anemone berlandieri seeds ready to blow away in the wind”… Poetically hits me. Thank you it was an enjoyable reading… with my love, nia

    Reply

  3. Steve Schwartzman
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:02:17

    I didn’t yet have my wildflower blog this past spring, but when the spring of 2012 comes around I’ll have to show some anemone pictures.

    Reply

  4. niasunset
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:51:41

    It would be so nice dear Steve, Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

    Reply

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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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