800px-Pulsatilla_vulgaris_'Pasque_flower'_(Ranunculaceae)_flower2Photo by Magnus Manske

Fast Facts

  • Approved as official State flower in 1903.
  • Botanical Name: Pulsatilla hirsutissima.
  • Pasque was first discovered in South Dakota long before Europeans settled in the area.
  • In 1919, the statute was amended to substitute Pulsatilla hirsutissima for Anemone patens.
  • Fun Fact: South Dakota is the only state to have incorporated a motto along with the adoption of its floral emblem.
  • Other favored flowers were debated like cactus flowers and wild rose.
  • Medical use: The Pasque flower is used in treating eye diseases like cataracts.
  • South Dakota Flower Delivery

The Pasque flower, along with the motto “I lead,” was approved as the official floral emblem of South Dakota in 1903. The first flower to show its blossoms to settling Europeans in spring, it became the subject of Indian songs and legends. The Pasque lent itself to many legends and held an endearing place in the hearts of early settlers. A member of the buttercup family, the tundra-loving Pulsatilla Pasque is a small solitary bell-shaped flower with gorgeous blue to reddish purple colors, bearing plumed seed heads and golden stamens. It has handsome seed clusters like feathery, smoky gray pompoms. The blooming period of Pasque is April and May and lasts for two weeks; its blooming is one of the first signs of spring to South Dakotans and lights up the landscape from Mount Vernon to Sioux City. It may re-bloom in late winter/early spring, mid spring, late spring/early summer, mid-summer, depending on care.

Pasque Flower by J BrewPhoto by J Brew

Pasque is a low perennial, rarely exceeding 6 inches in height, and its furry leaf clusters appear rapidly after winter snow disappears. Large, flashy lavender flowers open soon thereafter consisting of 5-8 petal-like sepals*, elongated clusters of white to purple styles, and a ring of numerous yellow stamens. The petal color ranges: deep violet, reddish purple, bluish purple, lavender & white. The long silky hairs that cover the finely divided, lobed leaves give the plant a sparkly silver sheen. These leaves continuously expand after the flowers open. The flowering stalk or stem is densely covered with silky hairs, helping to insulate it. At the base of each mature style, there is a flattened “achene,” a dry long plume that drops single-seeded fruit.

Pasque, all parts of which are poisonous, grows wild throughout the state, plus is distributed from the northwestern U.S. to northern Alaska. The hardy plant is best adapted to cool moist climates and rarely succeeds in warm dry areas; the ideal flower for Cedar Canyon and Tacoma Park alike. The Pasque is called by numerous monikers like: Prairie smoke, Goslinweed, May Day flower & Prairie crocus. The Lakota (tribe) name for the flower is “hosicekpa” meaning “child’s navel.” Others, including botanists refer to this flower as one of its species called anemone, meaning wind flower, or blue anemone, American pulstilla, prairie crocus, blue tulip, wild crocus prairie smoke, sand flower, rock lily, headache plant, scarlet windflower and Coventry bells.

Source Links:

South Dakota Floral Emblem http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/flowers/sd_pasque_flower.htm

Dave’s Garden http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/90698


*a modified leaf in the outermost whorl calyx of a flower that encloses the petals and other parts. Check out our article on flower anatomy.