Pulsatilla

Seedling, ca. 2 months old, Martin Bohnet

Pulsatilla Mill., is a genus of about 40 rhizomatous species in the Ranunculaceae family, distributed throughout sub-alpine and temperate areas of the northern hemisphere. Common names include Pasque flower, referring to the flowering period around Easter, or Meadow Anemone, denominating both the close relationship to Anemone (in which it is sometimes included), as well as the common occurrence on grazing land, also stressed by the German "K├╝hchenschelle", meaning "little cow's bell". The solitary, bell shaped flowers are often strongly hirsute, as are the finely dissected leaves.

When growing from seed, Pulsatilla often confuses gardeners by growing the first true leaf not from the midst of the cotyledons, but directly from the root, and after a considerably long time without any apparent change.


Pulsatilla vulgaris Mill. is a common subalpine species native to middle and northern Europe, reaching up to 1000 m. It prefers dryish, southern slopes on calcareous soil. In the wild, the flowers open up closely above the ground, but will push up their furry seedheads above the rising grass by the end of May to allow for wind dispersal of the winged seeds, after which the plant retreats from above ground. Photos in habitat are taken by Martin Bohnet on the Swabian Jura, Southern Germany.

Pulsatilla vulgaris in habitat, Martin BohnetPulsatilla vulgaris in habitat, Martin BohnetPulsatilla vulgaris in habitat, Martin BohnetPulsatilla vulgaris seedheads in habitat, Martin Bohnet

Horticultural varieties, possibly with some hybrid influences and due to less exposition to wind, tend to reach 20 cm when in flower and mostly keep their leaves until autumn. Color forms available include pink/reddish and white cultivars in addition to the most common purple.

Pulsatilla vulgaris, Martin BohnetPulsatilla vulgaris reddish form, Martin BohnetPulsatilla vulgaris reddish form, Martin BohnetPulsatilla vulgaris flower detail, Martin Bohnet


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