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Plants of the Western Slope March 29, 2017

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Pasque Flower

There's still plenty of snow on Grand Mesa and Craig Crest is still a brilliant white. How I long for summer! But it will come, for the cranes are coming and I'm thrilled with them. But I know that there are some flowers up there in the snow. And when the Pasque Flower blooms, it's a "must see" event.

It has more names (both botanical and common) than any plant needs! Following Al Schneider's web page the proper name would be Anemone patens variation multifidi.

Anemone is Greek for "wind" and multifidi refers to the leaves. In 1753, Linnaeus named the plant as Anemone patens var. patens from a plant found in Siberia. Our American plant is now known as Anemone patens var. multifidi. Confused yet? It's also known as pasque flower, wild crocus, prairie smoke, pulsatila or Easter flower. All indicate its range.

But the plant is as intriguing as the names. It looks "tulip like" at first, then the petals open wider and the center of yellow stamens is obvious. Next the petals fall, and the yellow stamens flake off so that the styles are left as a misty collection (see photo).

It's a very early bloomer so look for this beauty just as the snow melts away . . . it will be well worth your time! I've seen it along the Land's End Road, just as you come past a forested area.

This little flower is a member of the Ranunculaceae which includes such diverse plants as the buttercups, Colorado columbine, clematis, and sugar-bowls or leather-flower. In looking through the listings in Weber's "Colorado Flora, Western Slope," I find a multitude of plants, mostly small and inconspicuous, such as the group Ranunculus (with more than 10 plants). And so this winter-time column has led me to be far more aware the Ranunculaceae!

Photo by Al Schneider Pasque flower in bloom.
Photo by Al Schneider Pasque flower in fruit.
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Evelyn Horn, Plants of the Western Slope
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