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Multi-season delight from one plant

This article was first published on 20 Oct 2021.

Pulsatilla

Pulsatilla

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

Pulsatilla are adorable. There’s simply no other word for it.

Most of the plant is covered in a fine fur giving them a soft fuzzy appearance. In late winter finely dissected leaves emerge, providing a downy bed from which the flower stalks rise. Big silky flower buds form which are compulsory to caress and when you think things couldn’t get any cuter the large nodding flowers open. Bunches of bright yellow stamen explode from the flower centre in contrast to the surrounding sepals which can be anything from white or yellow, every shade of purple into pinks and even red.

They’re closely related to anemone. Botanists have been studying species characteristics and genes and have recently changed the generic name of some Pulsatilla to Anemone.

There are many species of Pulsatilla that grow naturally in grasslands throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Common names include pasque flower, Easter flower, wind flower, prairie crocus and meadow anemone. When Anemone vulgaris syn. Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower blooms it is seen as a sign of Easter and the herald of spring, pasakh being the Hebrew word for (Easter) Passover.

But wait! There’s more! The enchantment isn’t over yet: seed forms at the base of many individual plume-like structures, forming a fluffy ball-like seed head which playfully persists for much of summer.

See how many different species, colours and forms of Pulsatilla you can spot flowering throughout the rock garden at Dunedin Botanic Garden.

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