USA Official State Flower Official South Dakota State Flower


American Pasque Flower

(Pulsatilla hirsutissima)
Adopted on March 5, 1903; 1919

The American Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla hirsutissima,  was adopted as South Dakota's state flower on March 5, 1903. In 1919, South Dakota's state flower law was revised, changing the scientific name to Pulsatilla hirsutissima


Originally named the Paschflower by herbalist John Gerade in 1597. From the Hebrew word Pasch, which means Passover.


 This perennial herb is more commonly called the pasqueflower (psk´flou´´r) from the French word Pasque, or "Easter". It grows wild throughout the state, and its blooms are one of the first signs of spring in South Dakota.


A wildflower of the prairie regions of North America, is of the buttercup family having purple, crocus like flowers blooming about Easter. The pasqueflower has often been made the subject of Plains Indian songs and legends. South Dakota's original state flower bill, described it as "the pasque or wind flower."It was changed to "pasque flower,"with the scientific name "Anemone patens.

While many of the other plants in South Dakota haven't even turned green, the pasque flower is peaking above the snow, with its white, pink, or purplish, tulip-like blossoms already open. The flower's common name is French for Easter, and refers to the plant's habit of flowering between late March and early June, depending on location.

This member of the buttercup family, the pasque is a small, lavender flower, has been given numerous names over the years: Easter flower, May Day flower, gosling flower, wild crocus, prairie crocus, prairie anemone, meadow anemone, sand flower, wind flower and prairie smoke. The scientific genus name, Anemone , means wind flower. The species name, patens , means spreading. The Lakota name for this plant, "hosi' cekpa" translates as "child's navel" and is very descriptive of the plump flower buds that look like a newborn's navel before it heals.


Pasque flowers have a showy, beautiful blossom that is composed of 5 to 7 sepals that look like petals. True petals are lacking. The flowers are radially symmetrical and grow to be 1 to 4 inches (2.5 - 10.2 cm) wide. Leaves on the stem are silky, haired, sessile, and arranged in a whorl beneath the petal-like sepals. The basal leaves, typical of all plants in the buttercup family, have long, hairy petioles and are deeply indented, producing narrow, linear palmate lobes. A similar species, not found in South Dakota is the western pasque flower. It can be distinguished by its smaller flowers that are lighter in color.



The pasque flower is found across much of North America from approximately 43 degrees to 60 degrees north latitude. It is found from Alaska, south to Utah, east to Illinois and west to Alberta. Pasqueflowers prefer plains, foothills and mountain meadows at altitudes from 4,000 to 10,000 feet (1231-3077 m). In eastern South Dakota, pasque flower growth can be quite luxuriant, though it becomes more sparse west of the Missouri River. With agriculture and ranching, pasque flowers are not as abundant as they once were, but they are still locally common in the Black Hills, Slim Buttes, and Cave Hills.

Natural History

Pasque flowers are the first sign that spring has arrived in South Dakota. These lovely blossoms peak through the snow beginning in late March. By midsummer, their life cycle is complete.

Anemones are wind flowers; their seeds are dispersed by the wind so that new plants develop away from the parent plant. The plants develop quickly in the spring by sending out a hairy stem with a whorl of bracts and a flower bud that grows 4 to 15 inches (10-38 cm) in height. As the plant matures, a woody, persistent stem develops just beneath the soil. Each year, this stem gives rise to new growth of leaves and flowers. The flower will develop into a 1 to 2.5 inch (2.5-6.6 cm) wide fruiting head with many small fruits (achenes), each of which has a long feathery attachment that can catch the wind.


South Dakota Statutes
1-6-10.   State floral emblem. The floral emblem of this state shall be the American pasque flower (pulsatilla hirsutissima) with the motto "I Lead."


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta -- Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta -- Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida -- Dicotyledons
Subclass Magnoliidae –
Order Ranunculales –
Family Ranunculaceae – Buttercup family
Genus Pulsatilla P. Mill. – pasqueflower
Species Pulsatilla patens (L.) P. Mill. – American pasqueflower
   Subspecies Pulsatilla patens (L.) P. Mill. ssp. multifida (Pritz.) Zamels – cutleaf anemone