Even though an accident has left me temporarily more inside and not able to explore and look for early blooming wildflowers, I am learning about what’s blooming now from the Colorado Native Plant Society email group and from friends. One of my friends in South Park just told me that she had a Pasqueflower blooming in her yard at an altitude of 10,000+ feet. The Pasqueflower is also called Windflower, Easter Flower, or Wild Crocus and is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in springtime. The flowers appear before the leaves and last for many days as the plant is developing.
The scientific name for Pasqueflower is Pulsatilla patens or Pulsatilla ludoviciana. This is from the Latin, “pulsing” which probably is referring to the blood of sacrificial lambs of Passover. Pasque alludes to Easter or Hebrew “pesach” for Passover due to the flower’s early blooming time.
The cup-shaped blossoms are up to 2 inches across comprised of 5 to 7 lavender to purple sepals (most times green but sometimes form around the plant like colorful petals). The sepals are hairy outside and a paler color inside. The leaves are at the base of the plant and are on stalks that are divided into many narrow, pointed segments. Pasqueflowers often grow in groups and reach heights of 12 to 16 inches. They are found in open forests, meadows and clearings, sometimes in snow melt from montane to subalpine regions, 8,00 to 11,500 feet
The Pasqueflowers shown here were photographed in South Park, Colorado at an altitude of 10,000 plus feet by my photographer husband, Bernie Nagy. Here are some photo tips. Besides showing the image of the blooms from the top, you may want to get down to the ground and shoot the flower straight on focusing manually on the stem with its fine hairs and the direct sunlight from behind the plant. Be sure to keep the background out of focus, by using an aperture no smaller than F5.6 or F8. If you can manage to make a shade behind the object, the flower will pop out in all its glory.
Go out and look for the Pasqueflower, but don’t wait too long. By late spring or early summer the colorful flowers are replaced with feathery plumes of seed pods. Note also to enjoy the flowers with your eyes only as all parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause skin irritation.
The Pasqueflower is one of over 225 wildflowers featured in my handy pocket-sized book Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide that includes common, scientific and family names plus descriptions, flowering times, habitat, life zones and a large, clear photographic images. For more information or to purchase the book, visit www.highcountryartworks.com.