While botanizing in Michigan with Keith Board a few weeks ago, our conversations at some point turned to Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla patens ssp. multifida). I had a mental image from Keith's account of watching the flowers fluttering in the breeze, but I had never seen this species first hand. In the Chicago Region, one from St. Joseph County can only see this stunner by braving the Chicago clutter to get west or north of the city. I've never had the fortitude to do this just to hunt down a single species. Imagine my delight, then, at happening upon Pasque Flower in a montane xeric tallgrass prairie near Boulder on a recent trip to Colorado!
Numerous synonyms for this species exist, including Anemone patens, Anemone patens var. nuttalliana, Anemone patens var. wolfgangiana, Anemone ludoviciana, Anemone multifida, Pulsatilla patens, Pulsatilla ludoviciana, and Pulsatilla hirsutissima. I would try to explain the nomenclature of this species, but there doesn't seem to be much agreement by botanists on what to call it, as discussed on the Southwest Colorado Wildflowers webpage.
At first, I wasn't sure that this was the same species and variety that we have in the Chicago Region, but upon checking, I found out that it is. Its range is centered in the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, into Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. It can be found in prairies and open woods.
From the photograph above, you can see where the common name of Wild Crocus comes from. Other common names for this species include Prairie Crocus, Prairie Smoke (not to be confused with Geum triflorum, one of its associate species in hill prairies in the Chicago Region), Cutleaf Anemone, and Pulsatille.
So I sat, watching Pasque Flower blossoms blow in the gentle breeze, but instead of in the smog of a Chicago suburb, in the clean mountain air of Colorado. It doesn't get much better than that.
I hope to be able to find the time to post more photographs from my Colorado trip both here and at Through Handlens and Binoculars soon, but the way this spring is going, I can't guarantee it. Shoot... I hope to find the time to get caught up on posting some of the Indiana photos I've taken this spring!