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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Pasque Flower
(Pulsatilla hirsutissima
Pasque flower and bee; photo by Hillarie on Flickr

The Pasque flower, also known as the May Day flower (Pulsatilla) is the state flower of South Dakota. The Pasque flower grows wild throughout the state of South Dakota. The Pasque flower is a solitary bell-shaped flower, lavender colored, and plumed seed heads, belonging to the buttercup family. Pasque flower is found distributed from the northwestern U.S. to northern Alaska.

Pasque FlowerTaxonomically, Pasque flower is placed in the genus Anemone by some Taxonomists and some others in the genus Pulsatilla. It is thus both the terms are used synonymously to refer the pasque flower.

Kingdom: Plantae
    Division: Magnoliophyta
        Class: Magnoliopsida
            Order: Ranunculales
                Family: Ranunculaceae
                    Genus: Pulsatilla 

The Pasque flower is called by many names like: Prairie smoke; Goslinweed; Prairie crocus; and May flower. The pasque plant bears a hairy peduncle above the whorled leaves with a single large flower at its apex. This peduncle continues to elongated after the flower sheds its petals. Each flower is approximately 3 inches in open condition, consisting of 5-8 petal-like sepals, an elongated cluster of white to purple styles, and a ring of numerous yellow stamens. The petal color ranges from dark lavender to almost white. There are no petals. The sepals of pasque flower are pale purple to deep purple. The blooming period of pasque flower is during early to mid-spring and lasts for 2 weeks. The pasque flowers are short-lived and after shedding their sepals, the styles of the flowers become plumose and elongated. At the base of each mature style, there is a flattened achene.

Pasque flower buds

Facts About Pasque Flower

  • The pasque flower plant is a native perennial plant growing from 0.5 - 1.5 feet tall.
  • The Pasque flower plant is a tundra loving plant.
  • The Pasque flower plant consists of a few basal leaves and a single flowering stalk with a whorl of 3 leaves.
  • The flowering stalk or the stem is densely covered with silky hairs, which help to insulate it.
  • The basal leaves the Pasque flower plant are palmately divided into linear lobes.
  • Each of the linear lobes often have a few coarse teeth along their margins.
  • Each basal leaf develops from a long petiole, which is hairy.
  • The whorled leaves are similar to the basal leaves, except that they are sessile and smaller in size.
  • Similar to a strawberry seed, pasque flower fruit has a seed attached to the ovary wall.
  • Root of the pasque flower is a woody taproot, which becomes swollen int oa caudexon older plants.
  • Pasque flower plant spreads by reseeding itself.
  • The Pasque flower is useful in treating eye diseases like cataracts.
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