Hunting for the Prairie Crocus


Prairie Crocus flowers in full bloom. Photo taken in Calgary Alberta at Nose Hill Park.
Prairie Crocuses in full bloom. Photo taken April 11, 2021 at Nose Hill Park © Melissa Pedersen

Spring is my absolute favorite season. I love looking forward to the warm sunny days, the smell of fresh earth and the hints of green appearing everywhere. If you’re a fellow Canadian, you will understand how the long and dark winters help us really appreciate when April and May finally roll around.

Pulsatilla Nuttalliana. Prairie Crocus found at Nose Hill Park, Calgary AB Canada. April 11 2021, photo by Melissa Pedersen

This year I was eager to start my wildflower hunt extra early so off I went looking for the Prairie Crocus (Pulsatilla Nuttalliana.) These fuzzy purple flowers, are also commonly known as Prairie Pasqueflower and Prairie Smoke. They are one of the very first things to bloom in the Calgary, Alberta area, sometimes even before the dandelions! Once you know where to look they are easy to find all over the city.



Where to look

Nose Hill Environmental Park is one of my favorite places to find wildflowers in the middle of the city. Located in North Calgary it covers over 11 square kilometers with amazing views of the city and the mountains. Paved, gravel and dirt trails weave around park. The city of Calgary describes the endangered Rough Fescue Grassland, which much of Nose Hill is made up of, as one of the “most significant grassland ecosystems left on the Canadian Prairies.” It's a perfect place to spot native wildflowers all season long. As I hiked along the path I was rewarded with an abundance of wild prairie crocuses growing every few steps. I noticed they prefer sunny areas where the dry winter grass is short or less dense.


If you're looking for Prairie Crocus they start to bloom early April and continue until the end of May. Other areas of the city that are great places to discover crocuses on your own include Nose Creek Park, Confluence Park, Fish Creek Park, Bowmont Natural Area, the Bow River Pathway and the Glenmore Pathway.