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Cowslips are one of the best known spring flowers. The cup-shaped, yellow flowers grow in nodding clusters on tall stalks. The leaves are oval with relatively wrinkled edges similar to the Primrose, but narrowing more abruptly into the stalk.
They can be found in open woods, meadows, pastures and roadsides. They tend to favour rank grasses and scrub rather than amongst large numbers of spring-grazing sheep.
Its cultural history suggests that it was once as common as the Buttercup however, it suffered a decline between 1930 and 1980, mainly due to the loss of the grasslands where it grows. It’s dramatic decline in the 1950s was due to the relentless advance of modern farming, particularly the ploughing of old grassland and the extension of the use of chemical herbicides. Fortunately, it is now showing signs of recovery and has begun to return to unsprayed verges and village greens as well as colonising the banks of new roads. It has probably been assisted by the scattering of wild flower seed mixtures. Vast masses have reappeared in Hertfordshire where grazing pressures have eased.
Cowslips at Deep Dale Reserve
S morph Cowslip
L morph Cowslip
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