Sunday 19 May
Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Primrose fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
The primrose is well-known as one of the first flowers of the year, indeed the common name derives from 'prima rosa' meaning 'first flower'. It is a symbol of both the spring and of Easter (4). The crinkled green leaves form loose rosettes, and are covered on the underside with a fine layer of downy hairs (2). The flowers are pale yellow, or rarely pink, and measure 20-40 mm in diameter (2)Top
This perennial species is evergreen, but occasionally aestivates (becomes dormant in summer during hot, dry weather) (3). It typically flowers from March to June (5), although it may flower throughout the year in sheltered hedge banks in Cornwall and copses in Sussex (4). Reproduction occurs by seeds, which are dispersed by ants (3). A single primrose plant may live for 15-25 years (4).
Primroses have been picked for sale and for decorating churches for generations; this practice was criticised in the 1970s and 1980s, as wild-flower picking became unfashionable due to the concerns of conservationists (4).
Various parts of the primrose were used in herbal medicine; the root was used as a reliable and safe emetic (it induces vomiting) and as an antispasmodic, the whole plant was thought to be a sedative, the leaves were used to treat wounds and primrose tea was believed to relieve nervous disorders (6).Top
This species is widespread in Britain, and unlike the related cowslip (P. veris), populations of the primrose have not fluctuated much in the last century (3). Outside of Britain, it occurs in southern, western and south central Europe; other subspecies are found in southern Europe and North Africa (2).Top
Inhabits woodlands, hedgerows, shaded mountain-cliffs and north-facing banks. It prefers sites that are shaded from hot sun (3), and thrives best in damp conditions; it occurs in a broader range of habitats in the west, where rainfall is higher (4).Top
The primrose is included in Plantlife's Common Plant Survey; this survey aims to determine the status of 65 common plant species in Britain, in order to understand how these species are faring in the countryside and to effectively monitor changes in their populations (7).Top
Find out more
For more information on British plants and their conservation, see Plantlife- the wild plant conservation charity:
For more on the Common Plants Survey see:
Visit the website of the Botanical Society of the British Isles at:
AuthenticationThis information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: email@example.comTop
- Period of dormancy occurring in hot, dry periods, analogous to hibernation in winter.
- Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
- A different race of a species, which is geographically separated from other populations of that species.
- National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (Feb 2003): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
- Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. & Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. & Dines, T.D. (2002) The New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson, London.
- Press, B. & Gibbons, B (1993) Photographic field guide to wild flowers of Britain and Europe. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, London.
- A Modern Herbal (Feb 2003): http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/primro69.html
- Plantlife- Common Plants Survey (Feb 2003): http://www.plantlife.org.uk/html/commun_survey_intro.htm
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.