Pasque Flower

Pasque Flower

This genus consists of 30 species of clump-forming perennials that occur mainly in short grassland and alpine meadows in temperate Eurasia and N Africa. Pulsatilla vulgaris is now rare in the wild through over-collection and loss of habitat. Its common name, pasque flower, was given by John Gerard, the 16th-century herbalist, who wrote, "They floure for the most part of Easter, which has moved mee to name it Pasque-Floure, or Easter floure". The flowers yield a green dye once used to color eggs at Easter. A number of different species are used medicinally in various parts of the world. Pulsatilla chinensis (Chinese Anemone) is an anti-inflammatory, astringent, anti-bacterial herb, first recorded during the Han dynasty (206BCE-CE23). The dried root, known as bai tou weng, is used to treat gastro-intestinal infections, especially amebic dysentery. Pulsatilla patens was nown to the Thompson people of British Columbia as "bleeding nose plant". It was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia (1882-1905) as a diuretic, expectorant, and uterine stimulant. Pulsatilla pratensis (small pasque flower) is used in homeopathy for a range of conditions.

Small, hairy, clump-forming perennial with pinnate leaves, 8-20cm (2-7in) long, which are finely divided into linear lobes and very hairy when young. Blue-violet, nodding, bell-shaped flowers, about 3cm (1¼in) long, appear in spring with the new leaves, followed by silky, feathery seed heads on elongated stalks.

Common Name:
Pasque Flower
Other Names:
May Flower, Pulsatilla
Botanical Name:
Pulsatilla vulgaris syn. Anemone pulsatilla
Native Location:
Great Britian, Europe, W Asia.
Sharply drained, neutral to alkaline soil in sun.
By seed sown when ripe; by division after flowering; by root cuttings in winter. Pulsatilla vulgaris does not transplant well.
Plants are cut when flowering for use fresh in elixirs, liquid extracts, and tinctures; these must be used within a year.
10-20cm (4-8in), reaching 40cm (16in) when fruiting.
20cm (8in)
Has white flowers.
Eva Constance
Is vigorous, with deep red flowers.
Var. rubra
Has ruby-red to brick-red or purple-red flowers.
Parts Used:
Flowering plant, petals/flowers, roots
Chemical Constituents:
  • Anemome camphor
  • Ranunculin
  • Tannins
  • Volatile Oils
  • Properties:
    A bitter, cooling, alterative herb that relaxes spasms, relieves pain, and calms the nerves.
    Known Effects:
  • Irritates mucous membranes
  • Shrinks tissues
  • Prevents secretion of fluids
  • Decreases thickness and increases fluidity of mucus in lungs and bronchial tubes
  • Interferes with absorption of iron and other minerals when taken internally
  • Possible Additional Effects:
  • May treat menstrual disorders
  • May depress sexual excitement
  • May increase sexual strength
  • Medicinal Uses:
    Internally for premenstrual syndrome, inflammations of the reproductive organs, tension headache, neuralgia, insomnia, hyperactivity, bacterial skin infections, septicemia, spasmodic coughs in asthma, whooping cough, and bronchitis.
    Warnings and Precautions:
    Harmful if eaten. Repeated handling may cause skin irritation.
    Not given to patients with colds. Excess causes diarrhea and vomiting, and convulsions. For use by qualified practitioners only.

    Don't take if you:
  • Are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or plan pregnancy in the near future
  • Have any chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract, such as stomach or duodenal ulcers, reflux esophagitis, ulcerative colitis, spastic colitis, diverticulosis, or diverticulitis

  • Consult your doctor if you:
  • Take this herb for any medical problem that doesn't improve in 2 weeks (There may be safer, more effective treatments.)
  • Take any medicinal drugs or herbs including aspirin, laxatives, cold and cough remedies, antacids, vitamins, minerals, supplements, amino acids, other prescription or non-prescription drugs

  • Pregnancy:
    Dangers outweigh any possible benefits. Don't use.
    Dangers outweigh any possible benefits. Don't use
    Infants and Children:
    Treating infants and children under 2 with any herbal preparation is hazardous.
    None are expected, if you are beyond childhood, under 45, not pregnant, basically healthy, take it for only a short time and do not exceed manufacturer's recommended dose.
  • Store in cool, dry area away from direct light, but don't freeze.
  • Store safely out of reach of children.
  • Don't store in bathroom medicine cabinet. Heat and moisture may change the action of the herb.
  • Safe Dosage:
    Consult your doctor for the appropriate dose for your condition.
    Rated slightly dangerous, particularly in children, persons over 55, and those who take larger than appropriate quantities for extended periods of time.
    Adverse Reactions, Side Effects, or Overdose Symptoms
    Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pg 337
    Vitamins, Herbs, Minerals & Supplements The Complete Guide by H. Winter Griffith, MD Copyright©1998 Fisher Books pp. 404-405