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Pasque flower
Pulsatilla vulgaris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Pulsatilla
Mill.
Species

A pasque flower (or pasqueflower) is a deciduous perennial that is found in short clumps in meadows and prairies of North America and Eurasia. The genus Pulsatilla includes about 30 species, many of which are valued for their finely-dissected leaves, solitary bell-shaped flowers, and plumed seed heads. The anthers are bright yellow and the purple bell consists of sepals.

In its tallgrass prairie habitat, it is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring, often before the late winter snows have thawed.

Contents

Genus

Fruit of Pulsatilla alpina ssp. alpina growing at an altitude of 2000m at Schynige Platte, Switzerland.

This genus is sometimes included as part of genus Anemone as subgenus Pulsatilla, and is also commonly known as the prairie crocus, wind flower, Easter Flower and meadow anemone. It also grows in limestone pastures in central and northern Europe and parts of Russia. It is rarely and locally in southern England from where the Pasque / Parsk / Pask family takes its name - Barnsley Warren SSSI contains one of the Cotswolds largest populations.[1]

Different varieties of the Pasque flower are the floral emblems of various territories. Pulsatilla vulgaris is the county flower for both Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Pulsatilla hirsutissima is the state flower of South Dakota and the provincial flower of Manitoba.

Pasque refers to Easter (Passover) as the flower blooms around that time of year. They are among the first blossoms of spring.

Use and toxicity

Pasque flower is highly toxic, and produces cardiogenic toxins and oxytoxins which slow the heart in humans. Excess use can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting and convulsions,[2] hypotension and coma.[3] It has been used as a medicine by Native Americans for centuries. Blackfeet Indians used Pasque Flower to induce abortions and childbirth.[2] Pulsatilla should not be taken during pregnancy nor during lactation.[4]

Extracts of Pulsatilla have been used in an effort to treat reproductive problems such as premenstrual syndrome and epididymitis.[4] Additional applications of plant extracts include uses as a sedative and for treating coughs.[4] It is used as an initial ingredient in homeopathic preparations,[4] which don't have toxic effects of other remedies because the ingredients are diluted with water until no molecules of the initial substance can be found in a typical quantity.[5][6]

Pulsatilla slavica after blooming

References

External links

Notes

  1. ^ Natural England (2009) Sites of Special Scientific Interest(SSSIs) ISBN 978-1-84754-036-2
  2. ^ a b Edible and Medicinal plants of the West, Gregory L. Tilford, ISBN 0-87842-359-1
  3. ^ Yarnell, E. and Abascal, K. (2001) Botanical Treatments for Depression: Part 2 - Herbal Corrections for Mood Imbalances
  4. ^ a b c d Vaughan, John Griffith; Patricia Ann Judd, David Bellamy (2003). The Oxford Book of Health Foods. Oxford University Press. pp. 127. ISBN 0198504594. http://books.google.com/books?id=mMl9vwVDxigC&pg=PA59&lpg=PA59&dq=pulsatilla&source=web&ots=xEccdnf4ox&sig=uQu-JUHbXaEd9Ru5vJAPS9hkk0Y#PPA127,M1. 
  5. ^ Weissmann, Gerald (2006). "Homeopathy: Holmes, Hogwarts, and the Prince of Wales". The FASEB Journal 20: 1755–1758. doi:10.1096/fj.06-0901ufm. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/full/20/11/1755. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  6. ^ Ernst, Edzard (November 2005). "Is homeopathy a clinically valuable approach?". Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 26 (11): 547–548. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2005.09.003. 
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