The name was first used by Pierandrea Mattioli, a sixteenth-century Italian botanist, and physician, and possibly means ‘shaking in the wind’ (Ranunculaceae). This genus of 30 species, distinguished from Anemone only by minor botanical differences, includes some of the most beautiful of low-growing flowering plants, and one in particular, P. vernalis, which is so lovely that it must have converted many to the growing of alpine plants. The plants are very suitable for alpine house cultivation. One of their attractions is the feathery foliage, and another is the equally hairy and feathery seedheads. They are natives of the temperate regions of Europe and Asia.
Species cultivated P. alpina, 1 foot, bluebuds opening white, May to June, European Alps; var. sulphurea with pale yellow flowers. P. halleri, 10 inches, flowers of deep violet, finely cut leaves, April to May, Swiss Alps and the Austrian Tyrol. P. slavica (syn. P. vulgaris slavica), 6 inches, flowers plum-purple with golden centres, April. P. vernalis, 6-9 inches, evergreen, finely cut foliage, hairy bronze-violet buds opening to a glistening crystalline white with a boss of golden stamens, April, high Alpine meadows. P. vulgaris, Pasque flower, 1 foot, rich purple flowers covered with shaggy fur, April, Europe including Britain; vars. alba, white; ‘Budapest’, large powder-blue flowers ; red-flowered seedlings are offered by some nurserymen.
Cultivation A light open soil is suitable; P. vulgaris is found naturally on chalk and limestone formations. A well-drained rock garden suits most species, but they must be protected from wet during the winter. It is for this reason that they are so eminently suitable for the alpine house. Seed, sown as soon as it is ripe in July or August, in sandy soil in a cold frame, is quite the best method of propagation.
How to Grow Pulsatilla