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Oxlip

(Primula elatior )

Oxlips © Kim Lehoucka/Plantlife

Oxlips © Kim Lehoucka/Plantlife


Oxlips appear similar to both primroses and cowslips, being halfway between the two in terms of size. For this reason they were once thought to be a cross between the two (see fact below). Cowslip flowers, however, are a slightly are deeper shade of yellow whilst the primroses only has one flower per stalk.

Distribution

Confined to the area where Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire meet.

Habitat

Woods.

Best time to see

Flowers from April to May.

Status

The oxlip is a nationally scarce wildlfower and listed as 'Near threatened'.

Did you know...

For many years it was thought that the oxlip was cowslip/primrose hybrid. It wasn't until 1842 that the botanist Henry Doubleday did some breeding tests that suggested they weren't. To double-check he sent some of the seed he'd used to Charles Darwin who tested it himself. When Darwin got similar results he wrote a paper to confirm Doubleday’s work.

County flower of Suffolk.

Here it is the signature flower of well-established woods on the East Anglian boulder clay (where it replaces the primrose).