When the first Pasqueflowers begin to bloom, many suggest that it signals that Spring has arrived in the Rocky Mountains. The Pasqueflower is also called Easter Flower, or Wild Crocus and is one of the very first wildflowers to bloom in Springtime in the High Country. The blossoms appear before the leaves and last for many days as the plant develops.
The scientific name for Pasqueflower is Pulsatilla patens Ssp. multifida. Pulsatilla is from the Latin, “pulsing”, that probably refers to the blood of sacrificial lambs of Passover. Pasque alludes to Easter or Hebrew “pesach” Passover due to the flower’s early blooming time.
PasqueFlower showing hairy stem PasqueFlower showing stamens
Pasqueflowers are found in open forests, meadows, clearings, and sometimes in snowmelt from Montane to Subalpine zones.
Two more early blooming buttercups are the ivory-white Marsh Marigold and the yellow Snow Buttercup. They appear in marshes, wet meadows, and along high altitude streams often as snow is melting or even in low running icy mountain streams. The Marsh Marigold has thick, glossy, heart-shaped leaves whereas the Snow Buttercup has leaves deeply cut into narrow lobes. Both have yellow central disks with many stamens.
Marsh Marigolds in icy water Snow Buttercup growing through ice
The yellow Glacier or Avalanche Lilly also blooms through melting snow and can be found wide spread in open wet alpine meadows. Its nodding flowerheads consist of 6 tepals (petals or sepals) curving backwards and 6 noticeable stamens facing downward. Violets, Spring Beauties, Holly Grape, and Phlox are additional early bloomers.
Marsh Marigolds at Electra Lake Avalanche or Glacier Lillies
Go out and look for these early blooms but don’t wait too long. By late Spring or early Summer, these colorful wildflowers may have only leaves remaining.
All of the High Country wildflowers mentioned are among the over 285 wildflowers featured in the handy pocket-sized book, Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide by Linda Nagy. Included in the book are common, scientific and family names plus descriptions, flowering times, habitat, life zones and large, clear photographic images.
The book is available on Amazon and on our website. Use code SPRING2021 at www.highcountryartworks.com for an additional 10% off plus free shipping.