Learning a Little About the Pasque Flower


april purple flower

This picture was taken at The Arboretum last spring. At the time, I had never seen this flower, and have solved the mystery of its identity with the help of Arboretum friends.

This is a Pasque flower, a pretty tundra plant. It is one of the first herbaceous perennials to bloom in spring, and there are about 30 species in the genus Pulsatilla of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Pasque flowers grow at a variety of elevations, usually in dry, open, rocky areas. The flower head can appear while patches of snow are still present. The word Pasque comes from paschal, Hebrew for Passover, as the flower often blooms at the time of Passover or Easter. They are common throughout northwestern United States to
northern Alaska. It is the State flower of our neighbor South Dakota.  The Pasque flower grows low to the ground, like all tundra plants, to help protect it from cold  climate. Each plant has several stems that rise 6-8 inches off the ground. On each stem is one flower,
with 5-8 petals. Below the flower, around the stem, is a leaf covered in silky hairs, as is the rest of the plant, which help to insulate it.
So, can you find the Pasque flower at The Arboretum this month?

Author:  Pat McGivern


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