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Pasque flowers

Unmistakable plants from the buttercup family. In our region, they are one of the symbols of the coming spring. In our region, we can meet two species of honeysuckle - the greater pasque flower (Pulsatilla grandis) and small pasque flower (Pulsatilla pratensis).


 Greater pasque flower


Distribution: This is an endemic growing only in central and south-eastern Europe. Natural occurrence in the Czech Republic is tied to Moravia. It grows on sunny slopes, rocky and grassy steppes, places where stone was broken and forest clearings. These are often former pastures. In locations with favorable conditions for it, it often grows in very rich stands (e.g. Kamenný vrch nature reserve or Biskoupský kopec natural monument).


It blooms from March (sometimes even earlier) to May. At first, inconspicuous "hairy horns" appear in the grass, which then gradually bloom. The large, conspicuous flowers of blue to purple color are completely characteristic and unmistakable for the grater pasque flower. In some years, some of the plants bloom to a lesser extent even in September. The leaves are fully developed after flowering. They are very detailed and plants can be easily found according to them, especially in low vegetation. However, it is already difficult in rich stands with higher vegetation. Since the plant has a long and easily damaged root, attempts to transplant are mostly futile.


Reproduction:The fruit is an achene with a hairy appendage. Although the conicle is very fertile, population recovery by generative propagation (ie seeds) is low. The germination of seeds and subsequently the successful growth of seedlings can only take place successfully under specific conditions. Vegetation on the site must not include grass sod. If it is too dense and lacks small open areas, the new generation of rabbits has no chance to succeed. On the contrary, the population can expand successfully if there are suitable conditions for it in the habitat, i.e. free open areas without strong competition from other species. Under good conditions on the site, new plants usually bloom in the third year. In addition to seed reproduction, coneflowers can also spread vegetatively, i.e. by breaking up older massive clumps into several smaller separate ones.


Threat: The main cause of the threat to the species is the overgrowth of open habitats by invasion of woody plants (mainly acacia), thickening of the herb layer and accumulation of old growth, mainly due to the lack of maintenance of herbaceous stands. The most threatened are populations on former pastures or habitats that were at least occasionally grazed or cut in the past. At popular excursion locations, populations may also be threatened by excessive trampling as a result of too high a number of visitors (note that this mainly applies to locations in the Brno agglomeration). In the case of locations with interesting terrain, such as mounds and mounds, they can be threatened by too intense motocross and ATV driving. While the occasional disturbance of the habitat is not a problem and can be rather beneficial, driving the track onto the turf in places where they occur is already devastating. The problem of almost all populations outside the inner villages is the increasing taste of animals, which are looking for fresh food after the winter season. If you miss blooming cornflowers in places where you are used to them and you know that they definitely grow there, you will usually find a taste of buds or flowers upon careful examination.


Legal Protection: Greater pasque flower is classified as a highly endangered species of our flora in the Red List (category C2). As a highly endangered specially protected species of plant, it is also protected by Act No. 114/1992 Coll., on the protection of nature and landscape, as amended. It is also a species of European importance, for which the so-called European Important Sites (EVL) are established within the European system of protected areas Natura 2000.

Care of localities: Management in the semi-natural vegetation of former meadows and pastures consists mainly of mowing the stands or removing the old growth by encroachment. In the case of low-stemmed lawns, mowing is usually sufficient once a year or even once every several years, depending on the nature of the biotope. Preserved low-nutrition lawns often just need to get rid of the accumulated old stuff, i.e. dig intensively with iron rakes. For lawns that have been abandoned for a longer period of time with the expansion of tall grasses, it is usually necessary to mow 2 to 3 times a year initially. The species also benefits from well-performed grazing, as many locations are former pastures. On areas that are overgrown with trees, their occasional removal is necessary. In suitable locations, it is also possible to apply controlled burning, which benefits this species. The management of natural sites of occurrence, such as rocky outcrops and the edges of river valleys, can be limited to the occasional removal of woody plants with the aim of preserving a sufficient area of sunless forest. In most locations in our region, some of the necessary interventions are already underway.



All pasque flowers are poisonous due to their ranunculin content. This also applies to cattle that avoided him while grazing. In addition, the plant tastes very bitter. However, by drying, the poisonous substances are decomposed and the hay therefore does not cause any problems.

In the Czech Republic, there are a total of 5 species of pasque flowers - greater pasque flower, small pasque flower, Pulsatilla pantens, Pulsatilla pratensis subs. bohemica var. albida and Pulsatilla alpina subs. alba. Only the first two of the above can be found in our region.

Folk names for sedge are bird's nest, god's whiskers, black cabbage, devil's beard, whiskers.

In the past, the horsetail was used in healing, its root was supposed to ward off the plague, according to superstition. Small pasque flower was also used in folk medicine as a medicine against spasms, gout, rheumatism or as a soothing medicine against a suffocating cough.

A characteristic, defining feature of the pasque flowers is a large number of hairs on the entire plant, including the flowers. The hairs are clearly visible, especially during germination, when they help the plants better cope with morning frosts.

Thanks to the closed flower and pubescence, the temperature in the flowers is up to 9 °C higher than the ambient temperature, which helps to attract insects.

Outside the habitat of primary forestlessness, such as rock outcrops, outcrops, ledges and edges of rock formations, or even secondary old quarries and peasant clearings, usually indicate former pastures.

Pasque flowers grow in species-rich vegetation, so they can be considered a so-called umbrella species, i.e. a characteristic and well-perceived species by the public, thanks to the protection and care of the habitat, the protection of a number of other (less interesting and identifiable) species is ensured.

Individuals can live for several decades.

Fluctuations in the number of flowers in the same population is a response to the (in)availability of nutrients. In regularly mowed places, they bloom less (nutrient ratio), on the contrary, more in old ones (but they are not as visible), moreover, after a certain period of time, insufficient care leads to their extinction. This is the reason why, when the old growth is removed (the initial intervention after a longer period), they bloom profusely the following year, but then, after repeated mowing, the flowering slows down. From this point of view, grazing is therefore a more suitable method of care than mowing, as there is no such ratio of nutrients from the habitat.

Pasque flower belongs to the so-called pyrophilic species, i.e. species that are suitable for burning old plants in lawns. Such burning was prohibited until recently. Today it is already possible to perform it under certain conditions. In addition to the requirements for safety and compliance with the Act on Fire Protection and the Act on Nature and Landscape Protection, it is advisable to carry out burning preferably in bare frost. When burning in bare frost, possible negative effects on some animal species are almost excluded, and there is also a lower risk of fire. After burning the old plants, the plants bloom profusely in response to the released nutrients and the otherwise insufficient phosphorus released by the burning and available to the plants.


Whay cages are used?

In order to protect plants from taste, fences, fences or cage devices are actually used during flowering and seed development in some locations.

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Small pasque flower


In addition to the greater pasque flower, in our region you can also find localities with the occurrence of the small pasque flower, or both species at the same time in one habitat (e.g. Biskoupský kopec natural monument or natural monument Ve Žlebě). Small pasque flower usually blooms a little later, i.e. one to two weeks. It can be distinguished at first glance thanks to the size and color of the flower. Its flowers are slightly smaller and bell-shaped. They are not wide open, but inclined to the ground, i.e. truly "sloped". Their color is not azure blue or purple, but very dark purple to almost black. Everything mentioned above about the biotope, reproduction, threats, legal protection in the Czech Republic and the care of localities also applies to it. In contrast to the greater pasque flower, the small pasque flower is also found in Bohemia, where it is even more abundant than in Moravia.

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