Species Profile

False Rue-anemone

Scientific Name: Enemion biternatum
Other/Previous Names: Isopyrum biternatum
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2005
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of False Rue-anemone

False Rue-anemone Photo 1



The False Rue-anemone is a perennial herb. It can reach a height of 40 cm. Stems may divide into two or more branches, each with a single white flower. This species blooms earlier than many other plants in the spring. The flowers are small (1.5 to 2 cm wide) and delicate, with five white petal-like sepals. Although the roots of False Rue-anemone are shallow and slender, they are tough and hardy, sometimes keeping the leaves green all winter. The leaves at the base are generally divided into three parts, and each part is subdivided into three leaflets.


Distribution and Population

False Rue-anemone is found in eastern North America in the area extending from southern Ontario and Minnesota west to Kansas, south to Texas and east to the Appalachian Mountains. This species is common throughout most of its range but is quite rare at the northern and western periphery. In Canada, it grows in scattered populations in southwestern Ontario, specifically in the floodplains of Medway Creek, the Thames River, Kettle Creek north of Port Stanley, Mud Creek (Parkhill), and the Ausable River. A population that appeared to have been extirpated in 1990 was relocated in 2003 and 2004. No new populations were found during these surveys, however. Six populations are currently extant with a total of about one million flowering shoots. Because the colonies are often very dense, they may occupy only a small area.



False Rue-anemone grows in large colonies on open wooded slopes, on river floodplains, and in rich woods and thickets. It is often found in shady areas within mature maple-beech forests on shallow slopes. Ontario populations are typically found in close proximity to streams in deciduous forests dominated by sugar maple. A continued decline in habitat quality can be expected owing to the proximity of recreational trails and expanding populations of invasive alien plants.



In Canada, False Rue-anemone flowers between April and early June and bears fruit from late May to June. This herbaceous plant has both male and female reproductive organs (stamens and pistils) within the same flower. Self-pollination does not occur within a single flower, however. Instead, the flowers are pollinated by insects. False Rue-anemone seeds mature by early June and germinate in the fall. The seeds have no known special means of dispersal. False Rue-anemone is a perennial plant with considerable vegetative propagation from tubers that grow on the roots. Individuals form dense colonies.



In Canada, several populations of False Rue-anemone that are growing in close proximity to public areas and trails are threatened by all-terrain vehicle use, soil compaction, and trampling. Loss of habitat due to the invasion of exotic grasses and other invasive plants, wood-cutting operations, soil erosion and agricultural activities also poses a threat to Canadian populations of False Rue-anemone. As well, some subpopulations are close to the edge of fields where the potential for damage from mowing is relatively high. Spraying of herbicides and pesticides is also detrimental to these plants. In addition, road salting may be a limiting factor for at least one Canadian population of False Rue-anemone. Some subpopulations consist of small clumps with very few plants, so there is a greater risk of them disappearing. This species is also threatened by the picking of wildflowers.



Federal Protection

The False Rue-anemone is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

False Rue-anemone and its habitat are protected under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the False Rue-anemone (Enemion biternatum) in Canada
Status First posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Carolinian Woodland Plants Recovery Team

  • Jarmo Jalava - Chair/Contact - Other
    Phone: 705-760-2823  Send Email



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

9 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the False Rue-anemone Enemion biternatum in Canada (2005)

    False rue-anemone is a spring-flowering herbaceous perennial. The flowers are small and delicate, with 5 white petal-like sepals, surrounding a cluster of stamens with yellow anthers. The species grows to about 40 cm tall. Although its roots are shallow and slender, they are tough and hardy - sometimes to the extent of maintaining green leaves all winter. The thin leaves are mostly divided into three segments, each of which may be divided into three leaflets that are usually olive green in colour. The white flowers of false rue-anemone are among the earliest to open in spring, starting in April and extending through to early June.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment - False Rue-anemone (2005)

    Designated Special Concern in April 1990. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in May 2005. Last assessment based on an update status report.

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - False Rue-anemone (2005)

    A delicate, spring-flowering, perennial herb restricted to a few fragmented riverside forest sites in southwestern Ontario where its populations are at risk from habitat loss and decline in quality due to a variety of activities including recreational trail use, and expansion of exotic invasive plants.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the False Rue-anemone (Enemion biternatum) in Canada (2016)

    The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is the competent minister under SARA for the False Rue-anemone and has prepared this recovery strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.


COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: November 2005 (2005)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 31, 2017