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Pasque Flower


Picture of Pasque flower.

Picture of Pasque flower.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Pasque Flower:

Plant taxonomy classifies Pasque flower as Pulsatilla vulgaris. Another common name for this plant is "Easter flower," not to be confused with Easter lily.

Plant Type:

Pasque flowers are herbaceous perennials.

Characteristics of Pasque Flower:

Pulsatilla vulgaris is a low-growing perennial (8-12 inches high). The plant forms a clump that spreads over time. Blooms precede most of the foliage in spring; besides the lavender flowers seen in my picture above, there are cultivars that offer other color choices, including white and reddish-purple. Leaves are grayish-green and lacy. Silky hairs cover not only the leaves but also the stems and buds of Pasque flower. The wispy seed heads that succeed the flowers are attractive in their own right.

Planting Zones:

Indigenous to open areas of Europe and Asia, Pulsatilla vulgaris can be grown in planting zones 4-8. Anemone patens is a similar plant native to northern Eurasia; it is also a native wildflower on the North American prairie, where it grows with such plants as plains coreopsis.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Pasque Flower:

Plant this perennial in full sun to part shade and in a well-drained, sandy or humusy soil with an alkaline or neutral pH.

Outstanding Characteristic:

Of its many fine qualities, I'd say the outstanding feature of Pulsatilla vulgaris is that it's an early bloomer, rivaling spring bulbs such as snowdrops. There's something special about the first blooms that greet us in early spring after a long winter!


With its short stature, clumping growth habit and need for good drainage, Pulsatilla vulgaris was made for rock gardens. Pulsatilla vulgaris is suitable for xeriscaping once established. Although the plant has been used medicinally (e.g., as a sedative, according to "Henriette's Herbal") by trained herbalists, Drugs.com warns that Pulsatilla vulgaris is a poisonous plant, noting that it "is extremely toxic and should not be ingested or applied to the skin."

Meaning of the Name: The Easter Flower:

As mentioned above, another common name for Pasque flower is "Easter flower." Pasque is the Old French spelling for "Easter," and it is around that time of year that the plant blooms, in some regions. According to Botanical.com, the famous herbalist, John Gerard, "informs us that he himself was 'moved to name' this the Pasque Flower, or Easter Flower, because of the time of its appearance, it being in bloom from April to June."

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