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Primula veris - L.

Common Name Cowslip, Cowslip primrose
Family Primulaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Some people are allergic to the stamens of this plant, though such cases are easily treated[7]. Saponins may cause hypotension. Excessive/prolonged use may interfere with high blood pressure treatments. Possible Gastrointestinal irritation [301].
Habitats Grassy places, fields and woods with calcareous soils[7, 9, 13, 24].
Range Europe, including Britain but absent from the extreme north, to temperate Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Primula veris Cowslip, Cowslip primrose


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_Primula_veris0_clean.jpg
Primula veris Cowslip, Cowslip primrose

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Primula veris is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

P. officinalis.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Meadow; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves
Edible Uses: Tea

Young leaves - raw or cooked in soups etc[4, 7, 115, 148, 183]. They are not that tasty, but are available in late winter which adds somewhat to their value[K]. The fresh or dried leaves are used as a tea substitute[177, 183]. Flowers - raw, cooked or used in conserves, as a garnish etc[4, 183]. They make an ornamental addition to the salad bowl[238, K]. This species has become much less common in the past 100 years due to habitat destruction, over-collecting from the wild and farming practices. When it was more abundant, the flowers were harvested in quantity in the spring and used to make a tasty wine with sedative and nervine properties[238]. A related species Primula elatior is listed by the Council of Europe as a natural food flavouring [301].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anodyne  Antianxiety  Antiecchymotic  Antiinflammatory  Antispasmodic  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Expectorant  
Sedative  Sternutatory

Cowslips are an underused but valuable medicinal herb. They have a very long history of medicinal use and have been particularly employed in treating conditions involving spasms, cramps, paralysis and rheumatic pains[238]. 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[238]. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women, patients who are sensitive to aspirin, or those taking anti-coagulant drugs such as warfarin[238]. The flowers and the leaves are anodyne, diaphoretic, diuretic and expectorant[7, 9, 21, 165]. They are harvested in the spring and can be used fresh or dried[238]. The yellow corolla of the flower is antispasmodic and sedative[4]. They are recommended for treating over-activity and sleeplessness, especially in children[254]. They are potentially valuable in the treatment of asthma and other allergic conditions[254]. At one time an oil was produced by maceration of the flowers, this has an antiecchymotic effect (treats bruising)[7]. The root contains 5 - 10% triterpenoid saponins which are strongly expectorant, stimulating a more liquid mucous and so easing the clearance of phlegm [254]. It has been dried and made into a powder then used as a sternutatory[7]. The root is also mildly diuretic, antirheumatic and slows the clotting of blood[9, 254]. It is used in the treatment of chronic coughs (especially those associated with chronic bronchitis and catarrhal congestion), flu and other febrile conditions[9]. The root can be harvested in the spring or autumn and is dried for later use[9]. The leaves have similar medicinal properties to the roots but are weaker in action[254]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[9]. It is used in the treatment of kidney complaints and catarrh[9]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Primula veris for cough/bronchitis (see [302] for critics of commission E).

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Scented Plants

Cultivation details

Prefers a medium to heavy moisture retentive humus rich loam in a cool position with light to medium shade[200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils and on chalk[187]. Prefers full sun and a well-drained alkaline soil if it is to survive well[187, 238]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[187]. A very ornamental plant[1], it grows well in the spring meadow[24]. The flowers diffuse a sweet fragrance quite unlike all other flower scents. It has been likened by some to the breath of a cow (cuslippe is the Saxon word for this and thus the origin of the common name), by others to the sweet milky breath of a tiny child[245].

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[133]. Sow stored seed in early spring in a cold frame[1]. Germination is inhibited by temperatures above 20°c[200]. 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[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Subject : Primula veris  
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