Every spring, the Prairie Crocus is the first plant to bloom on the prairie—even when it’s still snowing, like it has been in Calgary.
The Prairie Crocus has many names. I’ve been looking through my four plant identification books and, while they all refer to the Prairie Crocus, they don’t seem to agree on a botanical name. Some say Pulsatilla patens. Some say Anemone patens.
The Prairie Crocus is also called Cutleaf Anemone, Prairie Anemone, and Pasqueflower. But in Calgary, we call it the Prairie Crocus.
The flowers are usually pale blue or mauve but sometimes they are white or light yellow. When they open they are 1 ½ inches to 2 ½ inches in diameter.
Generally, flowers have Sepals and Petals. A sepal is the outer part of the flower. And the petals are within the sepals. Sepals are usually green and their job is to protect the tender petals inside.
In the case of the Prairie Crocus, there are no petals, only sepals, 5 to 7 sepals. These sepals, of course, are not green. They are the showy colours we see on the brown prairie hillsides.
Each stem holds one bloom. The stems are about 4 inches high and they are “hairy” or “woolly” as though Mother Nature decided to dress them warmly so they can tolerate the cold spring.
In fact, the Prairie Crocus knows a lot about staying warm. The sepals create a saucer shape, allowing the crocus to direct the sunlight on the inner stamens and pistils. Not only that, this intelligent plant follows the sun as it crosses the sky, collecting warmth all day long. The warmth helps the pollen and seeds develop, and provides a warm place for insects on a chilly spring day.
The Prairie Crocus is found in the dry prairie grasslands throughout the Prairie Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Manitoba has adopted the flower as its floral emblem, and it appears on this stamp with Manitoba’s coat of arms.
Do you have Prairie Crocuses where you live? Is that what you call them? Or do you give them a different name?
Crocuses from Rolf Stengl
Stamp from Canstockphoto.com #6572872