Pasque Flower

Denver Botanic Gardens | May 2019

Denver Botanic Gardens | May 2019

There was once an Indian boy ready to go through his ceremony of manhood in the early spring. After the traditional sweats of purification he was sent up into the hills with nothing but a buffalo robe, for three days of fasting and vision questing. The first night it became very cold, so he wrapped his robe tightly around himself and he heard a little voice say, “Thank you.” Surprised, looking around for the voice, he noticed a little white flower. It looked at him and said, “Don’t unwrap the robe it is cold out there.” The boy soon fell asleep, feeling just a little bit more secure, now that he wasn’t all alone. The next day he started talking to the flower and it kept him company as the long hours went by. The second night was just as cold and the flower was very grateful for the boy’s warm robe. On the third day, the boy was starting to get a bit concerned because he had not as yet had a vision.  If he didn’t have a vision he would not become a man.  The flower assured him that everything would be all right as they looked out together at the beautiful yellow sun, reflecting on top of the purple mountains. That night was the coldest of them all, they had to cuddle close in the robe to keep warm, but just before the dawn, a great vision came to the boy. He saw himself as a great medicine man, taking care of many tribes of people.  In the morning he was so happy with his newfound power, feeling grateful for the friendship given to him by the flower, he told the flower it could have three wishes. The crocus said, “I would like to have the warmth and the beauty of the yellow sun at my heart, the grace of the purple mountains all around me and a heavy fur robe to keep me warm.”  To this very day the children of this little crocus have been given all three to keep them warm and happy in the early spring.

Ki’piaapi – Anemone patens L. var wolfgangiana (Bess) Koch (Prairie Crocus; Gets old early; Early old Men)

Native to dry meadows and valleys from central to northern Europe and America, the pasque flower is a welcome harbinger of a warming season in the high-altitude Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Often seen sprouting through the melting snows, it is said that the flower listens for Spring, as it’s often the first of the seasonal blooms.

The soft silky hairs help protect the planet from insects while simultaneously acting as a potent irritant to those who would disturb the hardy purple flowers which encompass the rocky mountainside so early in the season. When dried and ground into a muddy paste, those same fibrous stems were used by many native peoples to reduce inflammation in rheumatism, sooth infected sores & headaches, and induce labor.

At peak they can tower to 12”inches in length…starting as a soft, fuzzy-white bulb which slowly rises into purple cup-shaped flowers with a striking yellow iris. It’s final display explodes into feathery pink orb, spreading its seeds to…

Pulsatilla Vulgaris.

Also known as: Wind Flower, Meadow Anemone, Easter Flower, Prairie Crocus

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