The Primrose doesn’t really need to be in an identification guide. Everybody recognises this flower. In this article I will assume that you can recognise a Primrose and tell you some interesting things about this flower instead.
The Primrose is one of our earliest flowers, the name comes from the Latin Prima Rosa meaning first rose (although it is not related to the rose). They started appearing here in the middle of February and lasted until almost the end of May.
When the buds first appear they have sepals twisted at the tip forming beautiful geometric shapes.
The Primrose Flower has five petals they are usually a pastel yellow leading to a darker yellow centre. (pink flowers do occur in this species but other colours are probably garden escapees)
The flowers are borne singly on a short hairy stem.
Now this is where it gets interesting. Primroses are hermaphrodite, each flower has male and female parts but the flower has a sexual preference. Either the male or female parts take the lead and you do get different male and female plants.
The female plant bears “pin” flowers. All of the flowers on this plant will be female or pins. A pin flower contains both a style (F) and stamens (M) but the style is much longer than the stamens and is the part presented to the world.
Despite containing both male and female parts fertilisation can only take place between a pin and a thrum. Pin to pin or thrum to thrum doesn’t work.
Primroses like semi shade and they grow well in woodland and on wooded tracks. They can easily fall prey to mice, who seem to like the pastel bit of the petal but turn their noses up at the dark centre.
I use the leaves to add a bit of crunch to a salad. They are not the tastiest leaves about at this time of year but they add nice texture.
The primrose is very closely related to the Cowslip, Primula veris and the two plants can hybridize.
Species: Primula vulgaris