Posted 26th Mar 2018
On Good Friday, tradition says that the pasque flower will come into bloom
While this is not always spot on - mainly down to the vagueness of spring's actual arrival and the timing of Easter - when it does happen, these showy blooms will erupt across some of our finest chalk grassland making it a sight to behold.
The low growing plant has a cushion of feathery grey-green leaves amongst the short turf, with the flowers a stunning velvety-purple - open upward-facing bells with a contrasting golden-yellow stamen-filled centre. After pollinating, the flower head will suddenly shoot upwards, leaving a delicately fluffy seed head standing proudly above the grass.
How to do it
Pasque flowers will grow on short turfed grassland, typically in a well-drained chalk slope. Another name for this is 'wind flower', meaning it will be no surprise that its favoured sites can be windswept during the early spring. Be ready for a little weather on sometimes steep hillsides.
If you can't get to the special places listed...
According to legend, pasque flowers spring from the spilled blood of Viking warriors. You can see them growing in profusion on three National Nature Reserves, at Barton Hills and Knocking Hoe (Bedfordshire) and Barnack Hills and Holes (Cambridgeshire).
Pasque flower is a very rare plant in the wild, and has been lost from many of its former sites. With over 99 per cent of our pasque flowers now found on just five sites, one of the largest populations can be found at Therfield Heath and Fox Covert, Hertfordshire. Here, there will be over 60,000 plants coming into flower each spring, creating a truly impressive display.
Gloucestershire, Pasque Flower Reserve Barnsley Warren
Text and information courtesy of the Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of Pasque flower © Les Binns