pasqueflower (păskˈflouˌər) [key], name for two similar perennials of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family). The Old World pasqueflower ( Anemone pulsatilla ) was so named because it blossoms around the Eastertime. The American pasqueflower ( A. patens ), named for its resemblance to the European species, is a bluish, open bell-shaped wildflower of the prairie regions of North America. As a herald of spring and a symbol of old age (from the silvery heads of feathery seeds), the plant has been made the subject of Plains Indian song and legend. It is the floral emblem of South Dakota. Patches of the flowers on their short, furry stems give an appearance of haze; for this reason the plant in the Great Plains region is called prairie smoke. Other names for the American variety are gosling flower, sandflower, windflower, wild crocus, and anemone. It contains a poison and is an irritant when fresh; the crushed leaves were applied by Native Americans as a counterirritant in cases of rheumatism and neuralgia. The pasqueflowers were formerly considered a separate genus ( Pulsatilla ) from the related true anemones. Pasqueflowers are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.