Written by: Diana Picchietti
Photo by: Diana Picchietti
Pasque flower; Cutleaf anemone
Pulsatilla patens (L.) Miller ssp. multifida (Pritzel) Zamels
(Synonyms: Pulsatilla ludoviciana A. Heller; P. patens (L.)
Miller ssp. hirsutissima (Pursh.) Zamels)
Appearance: The pasque flower is a native, perennial plant in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Cultivated versions of this plant are sold in nurseries, garden centers and catalogs. Mature height is up to 15 inches. Flowers are up to 2” inches across, consisting of tepals (petal-like sepals) that are arranged radially. Flower color is lavender to purple. It is one of the earliest spring flowering plants–March to August, depending on elevation and climate. The flower appears before the leaves. Leaves are basal (low on the stem, close to the ground) and deeply cut or divided—hence, cutleaf anemone.
Habitat: Plains to alpine ( to 11,500 feet elevation). Pasque flower grows on hillsides, meadows, open fields, open woods, even under timberline trees.
Landscape suitability: The pasque flower is a versatile plant for the home garden. It can be utilized as an understory plant, open area, in semi-shade or full-sun. It can be used in prairie gardens. It will do well in moist or dry, well-drained soil. Its water requirements are moderate, once established.
Toxicity: Domestic sheep have died from feeding on this plant.
Sources: Native Plant Master Manual: El Paso County, Colorado State University, Colorado State University Extension, 2008
Guide to Colorado Wildflowers: Plains to Foothills, Vol. 1, Guennel, G. K. , Westcliff Publishers, 1995
Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope, Weber, William A. & Wittmann, Ronald G., University Press of Colorado, 2001, 3rd Edition
Rocky Mountain Flora, Weber William A., University Press of Colorado, 1976, 5th Edition