Primrose | Primula Vulgaris | TurfOnline

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Primrose (Primula Vulgaris)

Key facts about the primrose

  • Height: up to 15cm
  • Flowering Time: March – May
  • Flower colour: Pale yellow with deeper yellow centres
  • Growth habit: Wrinkled, boat shaped leaves form a rosette close to the ground. Grows in drifts. Single flowers held on hairy stalks. Blooms have five petals and flat faces. Reproduction is by seed. Perennial – plants last for many years.
  • Habitat: Widespread across UK apart from parts of the Scottish Highlands and the area surrounding the Wash.  Likes north facing banks and hedgerows away from hot sun.
  • Appears in: Woodland Shade Meadowmat 


primrose plant with flowers

One of the first signs of spring is the arrival of the first primrose flowers. The scientific name, Primula vulgaris refers to its early blooming (Prim = first). Vulgaris of course means common. Sadly these beauties are no longer as common in the wild as they once were.

It’s easy to recognise the plants of primrose and its native cousin the cowslip.   Their leaves are very distinctive. Once seen, never forgotten. Sitting close to the soil and arranged in a rosette, primula leaves are as wrinkly as a savoy cabbage. Forming the shape of a boat or an elongated spoon, the each leaf is narrow at the stalk end and has a gently rounded tip. Hairy on top and smooth underneath. Each one is a delight.

Uses for Primrose leaves and flowers

Beautiful growing in a shaded meadow and rather lovely in planters or borders. These little plants are more than just pretty. Flowers and leaves are edible.

Flowers can be coated in egg white and sugar and used to decorate cakes or simply added naked to a salad. The leaves can be cooked in soup but do have quite a strong taste. If you enjoy a tipple, the flowers can be made into primrose wine.

Historically, this little plant has been used to make analgesics, diuretic and expectorants.

Attractive to bees and butterflies and interestingly enough, ants. Their sticky seeds attract woodland ants who, in return for a sweet treat, disperse the seeds and help the plants to spread.

Folklore, myths and legends

In Norse lore, the primrose is the sacred flower of Freya, Goddess of Love. The Victorians too, associated this pretty little plant with amore. In the language of flowers, primrose means “I can’t live without you”.

If you are thinking of bringing a posy of primroses into the house, count them carefully. Any more or less than 13 can bring you bad luck.

As a time honoured woodland flower, it would have been remiss of us not to have included the primrose on our seedmix for Woodland Shade Meadowmat.  Where it sits alongside 36 other native wildflower species to bring colour and enhance biodiversity of lightly shaded areas in the garden.