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Pasqueflower Pursuit

Apr 10, 2019

When I decided to seriously pursue capturing outdoor, nature and wildlife photos back in the summer of 2009, one of my highest priorities was to find and photograph the pasqueflower. I had known since grade school that this little prairie flower was our state flower, but I had never seen one. I didn’t know that they grew on the sides of buttes in the part of the state where I grew up. I didn’t know they usually appeared before the pastures turn green. I didn’t know that the truly wild ones only grew on land that has never been tilled. Now, nearly 10 years later, I have learned all these things, plus how to study the weather and snowmelt to gauge when and where to find little patches of one of our first harbingers of spring.

The pursuit of the pasqueflower has now become one of my favorite activities. Depending on the year and the weather, pasqueflowers can appear from as early as mid-March through mid-May all across the state. I’ve seen them in the Black Hills, the Slim Buttes, along the James River, near Big Stone Lake and in the Coteau hills. I found my first pasque of 2019 just a few days ago in Hanson County. This particular patch south of Alexandria near Lake Hanson has been one of the more reliable places to find and photograph the flower. For this column, I thought it would be fun to show and tell a little about the first pasqueflower I’ve found in each spring going back to 2010, as well as share a few more of my favorite pasque portraits. I hope you enjoy the photos half as much as I’ve enjoyed capturing them.

April 6, 2019

The first pasque of 2019 was found at my favorite patch in Hanson County. A couple of honeybees were there before me, enjoying the sweet delicacies of fresh wildflower.


April 8, 2019

With a much ballyhooed winter storm approaching later this week, I decided to go back to shoot my favorite patch in the late evening light on Monday while I still had sunshine.


April 11, 2018

The first of 2018 was found on April 11 in Hanson County. Interestingly enough, April 11 is the date on which I also discovered the first pasques of 2010 and 2011.


April 1, 2017

Not an April fool’s joke, the first pasqueflower of 2017 was found on April 1 after a morning of photographing prairie chickens at Fort Pierre National Grasslands.


March 11, 2016

An unusually warm February and March saw tiny pasqueflowers emerging in the Slim Buttes on March 11, 2016.  This is the earliest I’ve ever encountered wild pasqueflowers above ground.


March 20, 2016

This photo is probably my most famous pasqueflower portrait because it ran in a couple of National Geographic’s online user generated photo columns. The assignment was to photograph what the first day of spring looked like where you live. This was what it looked like at my favorite pasque patch in Hanson County.


March 31, 2015

The first of 2015 included this pasqueflower bouquet found along the Vermillion River hills in McCook County.


April 10, 2014

First pasques of 2014 along a creek that empties into the James River in Hanson County.


April 21, 2014

This is one of my favorite pasque portraits. It was found in the evening sunlight in a rocky roadside ditch in the Coteau Hills of Grant County.


May 5, 2013

This is the latest day for my first pasqueflower (found near Lake Vermillion Recreation Area). This was also the year that produced the devasting ice storm that plagued much of the region in April and set much of the growing season back significantly.


March 14, 2012

The first flower of 2012 was found in a ditch on a hill along a secondary road at the Lake Vermillion Recreation Area.


April 26, 2012

Nearly a month and a half after finding the first of 2012, I found a nice stand in the northern Black Hills above Roughlock Falls near Tinton.


April 11, 2011

The first flowers of 2011 were found in the early evening light just south of Lake Vermillion along the river hills.


April 11, 2010

My very first pasqueflower find and photos were from a sunny April 11 near Hartford Beach State Park in Roberts County.


Christian Begeman grew up in Isabel and now lives in Sioux Falls. When he's not working at Midco he is often on the road photographing South Dakota’s prettiest spots. Follow Begeman on his blog.


01:46 pm - Wed, April 17 2019
Dean Hendrickson said:
I purchased a pasque flower about 7 years ago at a nearby nursery. I knew it was the state flower of South Dakota, where I grew up. This year it was it's most prolific- I count about 25 flowers on it now although some are way past their prime.
07:10 am - Mon, April 29 2019
What beautiful photographs! Thank you so much for sharing them.
05:06 am - Sat, March 14 2020
Trish Pool said:
Brings back memories of childhood in Day County finding a pasque flower for May Day. Thanks!
10:32 am - Wed, March 3 2021
Carol Leibiger said:
I love Christian Begeman's photography and his calendars. I wish he would do an entire calendar with SD flowers.

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