General: perennial with 1 to many stems 5-25 cm tall, often clustered, from a simple or more commonly branched, erect to ascending base, more or less grayish soft- to stiff-long-hairy throughout, rarely nearly hairless.
Leaves: mainly basal, numerous, long-stalked, usually developing after the earliest flowers, the blades 4-10 cm broad, primarily divided in 3's 1-3 times but dissected into numerous strongly veined, ultimately linear divisions 1-2 mm broad and often over 1 cm long. Stem leaves smaller, stalkless, in a whorl near mid-stem, dissected similarly to the basal leaves.
Flowers: single, petals lacking, the 5-7 sepals showy, petal-like, blue to purple (rarely white), oblong-elliptic to oblong-lanceolate, 2.5-3.5 cm long, hairy on the outside. Stamens numerous, yellow.
Fruits: achenes, numerous, silky, linear-ellipsoid, about 3 mm long. Style slender, slightly S-winding, short-feathery, 2-3.5 cm long.
Prairies to mountain slopes, mostly on well-drained soil, mostly in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from s. AK to Alberta, WA, TX, and e. to IL.
Use of pasqueflower reportedly lessens sexual excitement. It does not diminish sexual power but rather strengthens it by lessening excitement. A drug derived from the chopped whole plant induces vomiting and irritation of the kidneys. In high doses it acts as a depressant on the central nervous system and the heart. A decoction of the plant was used by the Blackfoot Indians to speed delivery of a child. They also used a poultice of crushed leaves applied to affected parts as a counterirritant for rheumatism. The Chippewa Indians used dried, pulverized leaves "smelled" for headache, and made a compound decoction of root taken for lung trouble. A volatile oil contained in the plant is used as an irritant.
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