The adaptations of the Pasque Flower save it from extinction in the high altitude cold weather conditions of the tundra. It has two primary characteristics that are central for its survival: the fine silky hairs it is covered in, and growing very close to the ground.
The Pasque Flower, quite a furry plant, is a member of the Buttercup family and grows along the alpine tundra of Europe, Asia, and North America.
Although the plant is rather pretty, making it a favorite in most home gardens, its genus name “pulsatilla” suggests that it is indeed quite dangerous. ‘Pulso’ means strike or set in violent motion and indicates to this plant’s poisonous quality.
Humans have been warned against eating or applying it on the skin. Animals such as rabbits, pheasants, and caterpillars however do eat it.
The plant is a low growing perennial because it is only about 8 to 12 inches in height. This height allows it to survive the colder climate by being closer to the ground than being in the face of cold winds. This height serves a second purpose of protecting it from most grazing herbivores.
The hairs on its stem, the leaves, and the buds serve a similar purpose to the fur on an animal’s body, or the fine hairs on our bodies: it keeps the plant warm during the cold winter season, during which time it is sleeping (dormant).
The Pasque Flower is able to lengthen its fruiting stems to a height higher than other surrounding vegetation to give it a better chance of spreading its seeds with the wind.