Happy Easter Monday, everyone! You may connect Easter with early flowering bulbs like crocuses, daffodils, and tulips, but did you know there’s a flower native to Colorado sometimes colloquially named the Easter flower?
Pulsatilla patens, otherwise known as the pasque flower from the old French for Easter, is a small, low-growing flower found in dry prairie and alpine areas within Colorado. In Colorado it is a soft blue or lavender color with yellow stamens, though there are pasque flowers in Europe and Asia that can be other colors like red or white. The leaves, stems, and sepals of the plant are covered in tiny hairs that help keep the plant from freezing and the cupped shape of its flowers also works to draw and trap heat.
The pasque flower got its name because it is one of the earliest flowering spring plants and tends to bloom during the Easter season. Because of this, it’s a valuable stopover for pollinators in the chill of early spring when few other nectar sources are available. European pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) was also used to dye Easter eggs (and textiles) before commercial dyes were developed.
I planted two pasque flowers in my backyard last spring and while neither have bloomed yet, they’ve greened up and put out new leaves. I hope they bloom later this season. Because the plant establishes via a taproot, it won’t be feasible for me to move them.