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Pasqueflower

Pulsatilla vulgaris

“…a fair claim to being the most dramatically and exotically beautiful of all English plants.”

– Geoffrey Grigson, “The Englishman’s Flora”

Description

One of our most magnificent wild flowers with feathery leaves and large purple blooms with a central boss of golden stamens.

The Pasqueflower blooms around Easter, hence the name “Pasque” (meaning “like Paschal”, of Easter). Its bell-like flowers open to track the path of the sun each day, nodding and closing at night. These are often followed by feathery seed heads. It’s a perennial plant, froming a neat clump of soft, hairy leaves.

How to spot it

A large purple bloom with a central boss of golden stamens and feathery leaves.

Where it grows

Dry calcareous grasslands, limestone banks and hillsides.

Best time to see

April when it flowers.

How’s it doing?

A rare wildflower which has been lost from many of the places it used to grow. Lack of grazing and scrub encroachment pose a serious threat to many of the remaining populations and it is considered “Vulnerable” in Britain.

3 things you may not know

  • Legend has it that Pasqueflowers grow on the graves of Viking warriors, springing from their blood. Pasqueflowers certainly do have a preference for earthworks and barrows, but this is probably due to their need for undisturbed chalk grassland, often where such monuments are sited.
  • It’s a rare plant, regarded as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ today as it has been lost from 108 sites and is now found at only 19, all in England. Hertfordshire boasts one of the largest colonies at the Therfield Heath Coronation Meadow with up to 60,000 plants – a heart-warming sight as spring returns to the downs.
  • You can grow this beauty in your garden.

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum