There are many signs of spring — waterfowl migration, robins returning, snow melting and ice going out on the Iowa Great Lakes.

A true sign of spring in the tallgrass prairie is pasque flowers blooming.

Photo of pasques flowers

Pasque flowers

The pasque flower (Pulsatilla patens or Anemone patens) is found in healthy tallgrass prairies, usually on dry, rocky hillsides and in woodland openings. They are a rare wildflower today, but they can be planted successfully in gardens, and we have pasque flowers that bloom annually in prairie areas of our county parks and in the landscaping outside of the Dickinson County Nature Center. They are the state flower of South Dakota.

Pasque flowers are a sign of spring, because they are usually the first wildflower to bloom from late March to early June — dependent on location, and they sometimes even bloom underneath a light snow cover. In fact, their name is French for Easter, because they often bloom around Easter time.

Pasque flowers bloom right at ground level and can have white, light purple or dark lavender flowers with bright yellow centers. The underside of the blooms and the leaves of the plant are covered in hair, giving them a silvery, feathered appearance.

Other wildflowers that often bloom the first week of April include marsh marigold, Dutchman’s breeches, spring forget-me-not, bloodroot and prairie violet.

Photo of marsh marigold

Marsh marigold

Photo of dutchman's breeches

Dutchman’s breeches

Photo of spring forget-me-not

Spring forget-me-not, By Fluff Berger at iNaturalist – https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/897635, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65870031m

Bloodroot

Photo of prairie violet

Prairie violet

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