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Species Notebook:

  • Primrose

    • Primrose: the common primula

      Post date: Wednesday, 4 February, 2015 - 00:00

      Yellow seems to be the dominant colour amongst early spring flowers. Lesser celandine, daffodil, dandelion, colt's-foot, gorse and primrose all display lovely yellow tones to brighten the woodland floor and our hedgerows. It is not long though before white takes over with shrub blossoms like blackthorn and hawthorn in the hedges and wood anemone, wood-sorrel and ramsons in the woodlands. These, along with early umbels such as cow parsley, will in turn give way to pinks, mauves and purples before yellow returns in the autumn.

      The primrose (Primula vulgaris) was once extremely common, Primular vulgaris means the common primula but these days it seems it is a little less so. Although far from rare one tends to encounter them only on bank sides and woodland edges, especially in sunny positions. One problem has been the naturalisation of the garden Polyanthus varieties which hybridise with the native primrose and then, once impure, the plant tends to die out. It was also a favourite flower for picking whilst out for a walk to the extent that picking them is now illegal. Modern agriculture and the loss of extensive stretches of hedgerow has not helped either.

      Springtime without the primrose would surely be unthinkable. Along with the bluebell it is surely sets the English countryside in March and April apart from the rest of the world! Oh to be in England now that spring is here ...


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