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(Primula vulgaris )

Primroses © Edwina Beaumont/Plantlife

Primroses © Edwina Beaumont/Plantlife

"And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie..."

- William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream".


One of surest signs that spring is on the way. Its pale yellow flowers with orange centres can be a common sight across the UK.

How to spot it

Pale yellow, green-veined, flowers, 3cm across, borne singly on stalks. Rosette of wrinkled leaves tapering gradually to stalk, each up to 15cm long.

Where it grows

Woodland clearings, hedgebanks, waysides and open grassland preferring damp, clayey soils.

Best time to see


Cultural info

  • It is the County Flower of Devon.
  • In the Language of Flowers it symbolises early youth, fears, a sense of being forsaken, inconstancy, innocence and lovers’ doubts.

How is it doing?

Primrose is a native plant in Britain, and its distribution remains stable. Its decline in areas of East Anglia - following a series of hot, dry summers from 1970 onwards - hints at a possible threat posed by climate change. The main threat is the loss of habitat. Inappropriate management of woodland and waysides can all contribute to a local decline.

3 things you may not know

  • The name derives from the Latin prima rosa meaning 'first rose' of the year, despite not being a member of the rose family. 
  • April 19th is 'Primrose day'. Why this date?  Its the anniversary of the death of the former British Prime Minsister Benjamin Disraeli and the primrose was his favourite flower. Queen Victoria supposedly sent him bunches regularly and to this day primroses are laid at his statue by Westminster Abbey on this date every year.
  • A primrose flower will be red if you plant it upside-down according to one old superstition (we wouldn't recommend it...)

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