Why is Pulsatilla called the Easter Flower?
There is a simple answer – that this beautiful flower, also known as the Pasque Flower, enriches our lives early in the spring usually around Easter. However, there is so much more to explain the link with Easter. This is a deeply spiritual plant and one of my all time favourites. There are three stages of this plants life and each one has meaning.
The initial stage for the Pulsatilla is when the foliage begins to appear.
It is an early bird! One of the first brave flowers to force its way through the cold earth in March, sometimes even February. And what a joy it is to behold. The foliage is soft, waiting to be caressed. It is like the down of a rabbit. Here is the symbol of hope, of renewal and promise for the spring.
The Purple of the Pulsatilla flower has special meaning.
The second stage is when the flower unfurls into a gentle purple bell. Purple has a significance in many cultures. For some it is wisdom and certainly this seemingly simple flower has an energy that is pure and restrained. For Christians, purple is used during Lent to signify a period of mourning. Here is the next connection with Easter, for the flower appears in the earth during that phase of the Church calendar. Not to be forgotten is that purple is often related to royalty and so the flower for Christians also sings of Christ’s place in the heavenly deity. Hidden in the midst of the flower sepals is the shining, bright yellow centre with tiny, pollen laden stamen acting like an internal crown, reinforcing that royal connection.
If you are not Christian it is worth remembering that these purple flowers had a connection with death from days before that era. They grow exclusively on dry grasslands and calcium rich soil. Historically that ground was found on barrows, the burial grounds of Danes and Romans. It was said that they grew from the blood of the folk that fell. There is a more joyful use for the purple sepals. They give a temporary stain that was used in the past to colour and decorate Easter eggs. Finally the yellow centre is still a sign of the promise of the sun’s rays and warmer days to come.
The Magic of the Pulsatilla seed head.
In the final stage of the plant the seed head appears. The purple flower will often fade quite fast and it is tempting to pluck the brown petals of the dead head away. But here is the magic! Far from being over, the inside of the flower transforms into the most delicate, spherical, silky, plume-like seed head. While gardeners might have turned away, if they turn back only days later, the seed head stands with an ethereal grace. As a Christian, it is a reminder that Jesus rose when people believed him to be dead. As someone who loves nature, it is a reminder that life goes on in many forms. Those seeds will be dispersed by the wind to live again.
Whatever your beliefs, Easter is a time when we have the opportunity to forgive, to move on, to welcome new spring energy into our lives, to look forward and feel renewed. The Pulsatilla flower is a reminder to help us do that.