European Species Primroses: Primula veris, Primula vulgaris, and Primula elatior

Gold-laced polyanthus are named for their gold-edged petals with dark backgrounds of either dark red or black. This small, but hardy plant was wildly popular as a florist's flower during the eighteenth century, but then declined in popularity and was nearly lost to cultivation when the last nursery growing them was bombed in 1939. Florence Bellis of Barnhaven Seeds received seed from a rescued plant and reintroduced it in 1949 but only recently has begun to regain popularity.

Primula veris, the Cowslip

Primula veris, the cowslip, is a European wildflower that bears nodding, bright yellow flowers in the early spring. They are very hardy and fairly tolerant of unfavorable conditions.

On the roadside near my house, Primula veris has self-sown and mingles with blue and white violets, grape hyacinth, dandelions, and other spring flowers to create a display that is literally a traffic stopper.

The illustration on the right is Millet's Primroses (1867-1868).


Primula elatior

P. elatior is a small but vigorous wild primrose with more open flowers than the cowslip and a softer, butter-yellow color.


Primula vulgaris, the Common Primrose

This charming flower is altogether too uncommon in American gardens. It bears soft yellow flowers on individual stems. Below is an illustration from William Curtis' Flora Londinensis (1798). The original is in the Chelsea Physic Garden.

To the right is a seedling at Mountain Brook.

Contact Susan E. Schnare today to discuss primroses.

Mountain Brook Primroses
373 Elbow Pond Road
Andover, New Hampshire 03216
Email: hld@mtnbrook.com
Call: 603-735-5389