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Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower

Summary

The books say the plant is too bitter for anyone to be able to ingest a fatal amount and, in that, the books are right. They also say it flowers on Good Friday but, as shown by the early Easter in 2008, in this, the books are wrong.

Blog Entries

Read more about Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower, in these blog entries;
Proof, again, that it doesn't flower on Good Friday

Family

Ranunculaceae

Meaning of the Name

Pulsatilla
Usually given as from the Latin ‘pulsat’, ‘beaten’ and, hence, ‘the little beaten one’ but its strong association with Easter suggests it may be a corruption of the Hebrew ‘paschal’, ‘passion’.
 
vulgaris
Common

Common Names and Synonyms

the pasque flower, wind flower, prairie anemone, meadow anemone, passe flower, Easter flower, wild crocus

Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower

Pulsatilla vulgaris, the pasque flower

How Poisonous, How Harmful?

The plant is a member of the same family as Buttercup and contains the glycoside ranunculin.

It has a very bitter taste which produces an immediate burning in the mouth. Fatal in a large amount but there are no records of anyone ever consuming enough because of the taste and effect.

About ten seconds after starting to chew a piece of leaf, no bigger than a little fingernail, the bitter taste was apparent followed by a burning like having very strong mustard. The taste persisted for some time after the leaf had been spat out and even a cup of coffee didn’t completely erase it.

The plant does not feature in the Horticultural Trades Association List of Potentially Harmful Plants. One of its common names, the pasque flower, is also applied to Anemone patens a plant known to cause contact dermatitis.

Incidents

No reported incidents

Seed heads of Pulaitilla vulgaris

Seed heads of Pulsatilla vulgaris

Folklore and Facts

The plant is said to flower on Good Friday, hence its association with Easter. After two years of so doing, it failed to flower on Good Friday, 2008 which fell in the third week in March and proved to be too early for the plant.

In American Medicinal Plants, Charles F. Millspaugh says it produces tearfulness, burning of the eyes, mouth and throat, sharp stomach pains, frequent urge to urinate, tickling of the throat, rheumatic pains, especially in the thighs, and skin eruptions.

IMPORTANT NOTE

The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.

 

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Introduction to the A to Z section
Abrus precatorius, rosary pea
Aconitum lycoctonum, wolfsbane
Aconitum napellus, monkshood
Actaea racemosa, black cohosh
Actaea spicata, baneberry
Aesculus hippocastanum, horse chestnut
Amanita muscaria, fly agaric
Aquilegia atrata, columbine
Aristolochia clematitis, birthwort
Artemisia absinthium, wormwood
Arum italicum, Italian cuckoopint
Arum maculatum, cuckoopint
Aspergillus fumigatus
Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade
Brugmansia suaveolens, angel's trumpet
Bryonia dioica, bryony
Buxus sempervirens, common box
Camellia sinensis, tea
Cannabis sativa, marijuana
Catha edulis, khat
Chelidonium majus, greater celandine
Cimicifuga racemosa, black cohosh
Claviceps purpurea, ergot
Clematis vitalba, old man's beard
Colchicum autumnale, naked ladies
Conium maculatum, poison hemlock
Convallaria majalis, lily of the valley
Cynoglossum officinale, hound’s tongue
Daphne mezereon, spurge olive
Datura stramonium, thorn apple, jimsonweed
Datura suaveolens, angel's trumpet
Delphinium, larkspur
Digitalis spp., foxglove
Dracunculus vulgaris, dragon arum
Echium vulgare, viper’s bugloss
Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconite
Erythroxylum coca, cocaine
Euonymus europaeus, spindle tree
Euphorbia x martinii, red spurge
Euphorbia pulcherrima, poinsettia
Fritillaria spp., fritillary
Galanthus nivalis, snowdrop
Hedera helix, common ivy
Helleborus spp., hellebore
Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed
Hyacinthoides non-scripta, bluebell
Hyoscyamus niger, black henbane
Ilex aquifolium, holly
Jacobaea vulgaris, ragwort
Juniperus communis, common juniper
Laburnum anagyroides, laburnum
Lactuca serriola, prickly lettuce
Leucojum aestivum, snowflake
Lithospermum officinale, gromwell
Lolium temulentum, darnel
Malus 'John Downie', crab apple
Mandragora officinarum, mandrake
Mercurialis perennis, dog’s mercury
Narcissus, daffodil
Nepeta faassenii, catmint
Nerium oleander, oleander
Nicotiana sylvestris, tobacco
Oenanthe crocata, hemlock water dropwort
Papaver somniferum, opium poppy
Pastinaca sativa, parsnip
Polygonatum odoratum, angular Solomon's seal
Prunus laurocerasus, cherry laurel
Pulsatilla vulgaris, pasque flower
Ranunculus acris, meadow buttercup
Rheum x hybridum, rhubarb
Rhododendron spp.
Rhus radicans, poison ivy
Ricinus communis, castor oil plant
Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary
Rumex obtusifolius, broad-leaved dock
Ruta graveolens, rue
Salix alba, white willow
Salvia divinorum, sage
Scutellaria laterifolia, Virginian skullcap
Senecio jacobaea, ragwort
Solanum dulcamara, woody nightshade
Solanum melongena, aubergine
Strychnos nux-vomica, poison nut
Symphoricarpos albus, snowberry
Symphytum spp., comfrey
Taxus baccata, yew
Toxicodendron radicans, poison ivy
Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander
Urtica dioica, stinging nettle
Veratrum album, white hellebore
Verbascum olympicum, Greek mullein
Vinca major, greater periwinkle
Viscum album, mistletoe
Vitex agnus-castus, chaste tree