Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Robert Freckmann, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Herbarium.

American pasqueflower

Scientific name
Pulsatilla patens
Also Known As
Eastern pasqueflower, Anemone patens, Prairie crocus, Windflower, Cutleaf anemone
Plant Family
Plant Group
A distinctive feature of this western grassland native is the feathery, silky fruiting head. The leaves, flowers, and stalks are all covered with silver white hairs. In moist areas in mountains, you can also see the western pasqueflower which is larger, has white flowers, and more finely divided leaves.
Identification Hints

A distinctive feature of American pasqueflower is the feathery, silky fruiting head. The leaves, flowers, and stalks are all covered with silver white hairs. The flowers are generally a light purple color. The leaves are often described as "finely dissected". In moist areas in mountains, you can also see the western pasqueflower which is larger, has white flowers, and more finely divided leaves. Clematis has similar fruits but is a vine with distinctive, hairless leaves.

Did You Know?

The common name refers to the Easter-time flowering throughout much of its range (pascal is Latin for Easter). Pasqueflower has many medicinal uses, however, if misapplied, it can act like a toxin. It is toxic to sheep and other livestock. American Pasqueflower is the state flower of South Dakota.

Leaves
The leaves are basal (they grow from the lowest part of the stem), compound (divided), and hairy. The leaf stalks are 2 to 3.5 in (5 to 9 cm) and are also covered with silver white hairs. A whorl of leaves without stalks is found beneath the flower.
Flowers
Showy, purple to bluish (occasionally white); single flowers found on hairy stalks; open bell-shaped flowers that are hairy on the upper surface. The flowers have 5 to 8 sepals (these appear petal-like) with numerous yellow stamens.
Fruits
The fruit is an egg-shaped achene (small, dry, and one seed fruit with a thin wall) with a long feather-like plume. Heads appear cotton-like from a distance which is why they are prized as ornamental (in addition to their showy flowers).
Habitat
Widely distributed, the American pasqueflower is found in open areas and grasslands of the Midwest and Great Plains region west to the Cascades in Washington and Oregon. It prefers dry to moderate conditions and thrives on hillsides, prairies, and cliffs.
Bloom Time
This is one of the earliest herbaceous plants to bloom in the spring. Depending on location, it blooms from late March to early June.
States
AK, CO, IA, ID, IL, KS, MI, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI, WY