Primrose

Botanical Name : Primula vulgaris
Family: Primulaceae
Genus: Primula
Species: P. vulgaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

synonyms:    Primula   acaulis (L.) Hill

Common Names : Primrose, or occasionally Common primrose or English primrose

Habitat :Primrose is native to western and southern Europe (from the Faroe Island and Norway south to Portugal, and east to Germany, Ukraine, the Crimea, and the Balkans), northwest Africa (Algeria), and southwest Asia (Turkey east to Iran).The plant grows abundant in woods, hedgerows, pastures and on railway embankments.

Description:
Primrose is a perennial growing 10–30 cm (4–12 in) tall, with a basal rosette of leaves which are more-or-less evergreen in favoured habitats. The leaves are 5–25 cm long and 2–6 cm broad, often heavily wrinkled, with an irregularly crenate to dentate margin, and a usually short leaf stem. The delicately scented flowers are 2–4 cm in diameter, borne singly on short slender stems. The flowers are typically pale yellow, though white or pink forms are often seen in nature. The flowers are actinomorphic with a superior ovary which later forms a capsule opening by valves to release the small black seeds. The flowers are hermaphrodite but heterostylous; individual plants bear either pin flowers (longuistylous flower: with the capita of the style prominent) or thrum flowers (brevistylous flower: with the stamens prominent). Fertilisation can only take place between pin and thrum flowers. Pin-to-pin and thrum-to-thrum pollination is ineffective.
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The primrose is one of the earliest spring flowers in much of Europe.  “Primrose” is ultimately from Old French primerose or medieval Latin prima rosa, meaning “first rose”, though it is not closely related to the rose family Rosaceae.

There are three subspecies:

*Primula vulgaris subspecies vulgaris……. Western and southern Europe. As described above; flowers pale yellow.

*Primula vulgaris subsp. balearica (Willk.) W.W.Sm. & Forrest………Balearic Islands (endemic). Flowers white. Leaf stem longer than leaf blade.

*Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii (Hoffmanns.) W.W.Sm. & Forrest Balkans,…. southwest Asia. Flowers pink to red or purple.

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Cultivation:
Prefers a medium to heavy moisture retentive humus rich loam in a cool position with light to medium shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties. The blooms have a characteristic fragrance of a mossy bank or a deciduous woodland. This species hybridizes readily with P. elatior.

Propagation:     
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in early spring in a cold frame. Germination is inhibited by temperatures above 20°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in autumn. This is best done every other year.

Edible Uses:
Both flowers and leaves are edible, the flavour ranging between mild lettuce and more bitter salad greens. The leaves can also be used for tea, and the young flowers can be made into primrose wine.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: The whole herb, used fresh, and in bloom, and the root-stock (the so-called root) dried.

The roots of two- or three-year-old plants are used, dug in autumn. The roots must be thoroughly cleansed in cold water, with a brush, allowing them to remain in water as short a time as possible. All smaller fibres are trimmed off. Large roots may be split lengthwise to facilitate drying, but as a rule this will not be necessary with Primrose roots.

Constituents: Both the root and flowers of the Primrose contain a fragrant oil and Primulin, which is identical with Mannite, whilst the somewhat acrid active principle is Saponin.

Primroses have a very long history of medicinal use and has been particularly employed in treating conditions involving spasms, cramps, paralysis and rheumatic pains. They are, however, considered to be less effective than the related P. veris. The plant contains saponins, which have an expectorant effect, and salicylates which are the main ingredient of aspirin and have anodyne, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge effects. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women, patients who are sensitive to aspirin, or those taking anti-coagulant drugs such as warfarin. The roots and the flowering herb are anodyne, antispasmodic, astringent, emetic, sedative and vermifuge. An infusion of the roots is a good remedy against nervous headaches. The roots are harvested in the autumn when two or three years old and dried for later use. An ointment has been made from the plant and used for treating skin wounds.

Other Uses:  
Makes a good carpet in open woodland and on woodland edges. Plants are best spaced about 35cm apart each way.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primula_vulgaris
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/primro69.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Primula+vulgaris

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