Aerial shoots 5-40(-60) cm, from caudices, caudices ascending to vertical. Basal leaves (3-)5-8(-10), primarily 3-foliolate with each leaflet dichotomously dissected; petiole 5-10(-13) cm; terminal leaflet petiolulate to nearly sessile, obovate in outline, (2.5-)3-5 cm, base narrowly cuneate, margins dichotomously dissected throughout, apex acute to obtuse, surfaces villous, rarely glabrous; lateral leaflets 3-4×-parted (±dichotomously); ultimate segments 2-4 mm wide. Inflorescences 1-flowered; peduncle villous or glabrate; involucral bracts primarily 3, 1-tiered, simple, dissimilar to basal leaves, (2-)2.5-4 cm, bases clasping, connate, margins deeply laciniate throughout, surfaces villous, rarely glabrous to nearly glabrous; segments usually 4-6, filiform to linear, unlobed, 1-2(-3) mm wide. Flowers: sepals 5-8, blue, purple, to rarely nearly white, oblong to elliptic, (18-)20-40 × (8-)10-15 mm, abaxially villous, adaxially glabrous; petals present; stamens 150-200. Heads of achenes spheric to ovoid; pedicel 10-18(-22) cm. Achenes: body ellipsoid to obovoid, 3-4(-6) × ca. 1 mm, not winged, villous; beak curved, 20-40 mm, long-villous, plumose. 2 n =16.
Flowering spring-summer (Apr-Aug). Prairies, open slopes, sometimes open woods or granite outcrops in woods; 100-3800 m; Alta., B.C., Man., N.W.T., Ont., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Colo., Idaho, Ill., Iowa, Minn., Mont., Nebr., N.Mex., N.Dak., S.Dak., Utah, Wis., Wyo.; Eurasia.
Anemone patens var. multifida has frequently been recognized as a subspecies of A . patens . Although A . patens var. wolfgangiana has been used by some authors, A . patens var. multifida has priority.
Pasqueflower (as Anemone patens var. wolfgangiana ) is the floral emblem of Manitoba and (as Pulsatilla hirsutissima ) the state flower of South Dakota.
Native Americans used fresh leaves of Anemone patens var. multifida medicinally to treat rheumatism and neuralgia; crushed leaves for poultices; pulverized leaves to smell to alleviate headaches; and made decoctions from roots to treat lung problems (D. E. Moerman 1986).
The names Pulsatilla hirsutissima (Pursh) Britton and P . ludoviciana (Nuttall) A. Heller are illegitimate.