Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans

…and yet another thank you to Jackie Chambers, UBC Botanical Garden horticulturist, for providing today’s photograph and write-up. Much appreciated, as always! Jackie writes:

It was the dark purple-black flowers, the graceful curve of the stem and the silky silver hairs along the stem that caught my attention. Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans is flowering right now in the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden. A small perennial plant native to northern Europe, the specific epithet pratensis means “of the meadows”, and gives you an idea of its native habitat.

The long soft hairs that cover the whole plant are one of the fabulous properties of Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans. The basal leaves are divided, and held on a long petiole. The nodding, bell-shaped flowers may reach 20cm tall, and are produced in late spring to early summer. For more detailed photographs, see this Czech website.

Although it is closely related to Anemone, Pulsatilla is often distinguished from its close cousin by the morphology of its seeds. Pulsatilla produces achenes that have long, plumose appendages, formed by a persistent style. In other words, a portion of the reproductive structure — the style — of the flower is retained, long after the petals and other components have withered away. Photographs of seed heads from a sampling of Pulsatilla species can be seen here: Pasque flower. The common name of windflower is sometime applied to Pulsatilla species, in reference to the way these feathery seeds are dispersed.

Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans is used in traditional medicine in Europe to treat a range of ailments. In the late eighteenth century, Anton Freiherr von Störck (1731 -1803), physician to the Austrian empress Maria Theresia, was one of the first people to attempt to quantify the effectiveness of this remedy in clinical trials. In his career, Störck investigated medicinal properties of several poisonous European plant species.

Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans

4 responses to “Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans”

  1. Sue in Bremerton WA

    This little gem is an awesome one. The fuzzy stems, flowers, and the great leaves.. it is like a work of art.
    Just as I was wondering about medicinal properties, there was the answer. Thanks Jackie.

  2. Margaret-Rae Davis

    What a joy to see this lovely flower. I really appreciate all the information you have given. Also the links to chick on to get more imformation really interests me.
    Thank you,

  3. elizabeth a airhart

    i think the fairys like to play
    the bells come moon time -they really
    do you you know – they climb inside
    when it rains and they blow the seeds
    so we may enjoy spring time each year

  4. Elaine E

    Thank you for the beautiful image and the information. Another flower to add to my collection of favourites. I’m planning a visit to the Alpine Garden this weekend.

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