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Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower


The books say the plant is too bitter for anyone to be able to ingest a fatal amount and, in that, the books are right. They also say it flowers on Good Friday but, as shown by the early Easter in 2008, in this, the books are wrong.

Blog Entries

Read more about Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower, in these blog entries;
Proof, again, that it doesn't flower on Good Friday



Meaning of the Name

Usually given as from the Latin ‘pulsat’, ‘beaten’ and, hence, ‘the little beaten one’ but its strong association with Easter suggests it may be a corruption of the Hebrew ‘paschal’, ‘passion’.

Common Names and Synonyms

the pasque flower, wind flower, prairie anemone, meadow anemone, passe flower, Easter flower, wild crocus

Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower

Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower

How Poisonous, How Harmful?

The plant is a member of the same family as Buttercup and contains the glycoside ranunculin.

It has a very bitter taste which produces an immediate burning in the mouth. Fatal in a large amount but there are no records of anyone ever consuming enough because of the taste and effect.

About ten seconds after starting to chew a piece of leaf, no bigger than a little fingernail, the bitter taste was apparent followed by a burning like having very strong mustard. The taste persisted for some time after the leaf had been spat out and even a cup of coffee didn’t completely erase it.

The plant does not feature in the Horticultural Trades Association List of Potentially Harmful Plants. One of its common names, the pasque flower, is also applied to Anemone patens a plant known to cause contact dermatitis.


No reported incidents

Seed heads of Pulaitilla vulgaris

Seed heads of Pulsatilla vulgaris

Folklore and Facts

The plant is said to flower on Good Friday, hence its association with Easter. After two years of so doing, it failed to flower on Good Friday, 2008 which fell in the third week in March and proved to be too early for the plant.

In American Medicinal Plants, Charles F. Millspaugh says it produces tearfulness, burning of the eyes, mouth and throat, sharp stomach pains, frequent urge to urinate, tickling of the throat, rheumatic pains, especially in the thighs, and skin eruptions.