Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

EcoGroup members Elaine and Mike de Villiers bring the outdoors to you with a piece on some very special Easter Flowers they’ve grown in their garden.

The striking, purple Pasqueflower is now a very rare wild plant in the UK, but where did it get its name? It flowers in spring, usually in April, its petals sitting cushioned on feathery leaves. Legend has it that Pasqueflowers sprang up in places that had been soaked by the blood of Romans or Danes because they often appeared on old barrows and boundary banks. However, it’s more likely that they were found on these sites because they tend to be undisturbed chalk grassland.

Pulsatilla vulgaris is commonly known as Pasqueflower because it flowers around Easter time.  Derived from the Hebrew word for Passover, “pesach”, the common name Pasqueflower, refers to that paschal time known to Christians as Easter. The plant has been known by humans over millennia and many myths are associated with the Pasqueflower including the tragic story of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love.

Mountain ecologist and philosopher H Rolston suggests that this hardy native flower is associated with Easter and resurrection because it can emerge from the harshest winter to produce exquisite flowers which are often beaten by the winds.  Hence ‘pulsatilla’, which can be seen as a ‘suffering’ and so is drawn into the passion of Easter and the Pesach. He says, “The way of nature is, in this deep though earthen sense, the Way of the Cross. Light shines in the darkness that does not overcome it. This noble flower is a poignant sacrament of this, and to chance to find it in earliest spring, and to pause at that meeting, is to find a moment of truth, a moment of memory and promise.” (A Naturalist at Large   The Pasqueflower   H Rolston)

Extracted pulsatilla colour is used to decorate Paschal eggs in some countries. There are many uses of the Pasqueflower found in homeopathic applications. 

Today one can grow pasqueflowers in most gardens and they come in different shades as well as the natural purple, but they all flower around Eastertime. When they have finished flowering, the plant is covered in silky hairs that give the ripe fruit the appearance of a mop head which lasts all through summer.

Elaine and Mike de Villiers

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