Walter, Fl. Carol. 157. 1788.
Aerial shoots 5-35(-60) cm, from tubers with rhizomes near apex, tubers ascending or vertical, rhizomes horizontal or ascending. Basal leaves 1-3(-5), 1-2-ternate; petiole 3-9(-10) cm; terminal leaflet petiolulate, rarely sessile, obtriangular, 2-3-cleft, 1-3 × 0.8-2(-2.5) cm, base narrowly attenuate to strongly and narrowly cuneate, margins serrate, rarely dissected on distal 2/3, apex obtuse to broadly acute, surfaces glabrous; lateral leaflets ±pinnately 1-2(-3)×-lobed or -parted; ultimate lobes 2-10 mm wide. Inflorescences 1-flowered; peduncle proximally glabrous, distally villous; involucral bracts 3, borne below middle of scape at anthesis, 1-tiered, simple, ±similar to basal leaves, obtriangular, 3-cleft, 1-2.5 cm, bases somewhat clasping, connate, margins incised on distal 1/2, apex acuminate, surfaces sparsely pilose; segments 3, broadly linear; lateral segments 1-2×-lobed or -parted; ultimate lobes 1-2.5 mm wide. Flowers: sepals 10-20(-30), white to rose or blue to purple, linear to oblong, (6-)10-20(-22) × 2-5(-7) mm, abaxially sparsely hairy, adaxially glabrous or nearly so; stamens 50-60. Heads of achenes fusiform; pedicel (5-)10-20 cm. Achenes: body ovoid, 1.5-2.5(-3) × ca. 2 mm, not winged, densely woolly; beak straight, 1.3-2 mm, projecting beyond achene indument, proximally tomentose, not plumose. 2 n =16.
Flowering winter-spring (Feb-Apr). Dry prairies, barrens, pastures, meadows, rocky, open woods; 60-700m; Ala., Ark., Ga., Ill., Iowa, Kans., La., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., Okla., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Wis.
Anemone caroliniana was recorded from Indiana (Vigo County); it has since been extirpated.