The Primula genus of over 500 species includes the Wild Primrose Primula vulgaris and the Cowslip Primula veris. Both species are in flower now, in mid March. A natural hybrid between these two species is the False Oxlip (P. veris x vulgaris). It has been used to create a huge number of brightly coloured hybrids and varieties which are border perennials and rockery plants with the common name Polyanthus and the scientific name Primula variabilis. There are also a number of Primula species and cultivars imported from Japan. The Primula genus is a member of the Primrose Family – Primulaceae

wild primrose flowers

Primrose Primula vulgaris  is a common, native wild flower found across Britain in woods and hedge-banks. It is also  found in Western Europe, North Africa and Turkey. It normally flowers from March to May. It often grows close to the base of a tree. Although Primrose and Cowslip flowers look simple they have been the subject of a huge amount of study because populations have two morphs – known as  ‘pin-eyed’ (long style) and ‘thrum-eyed’ (short-style). This is known as heterostyly. 

cowslip flowers

Cowslip Primula veris has multiple flowers on one stalk arranged in an umbel. A less-common native wild flower found across Britain in meadows and pastures and in Europe and temperate Asia. It normally flowers from April to May but this year is already in flower in a few places. In old meadows it can be prolific in April.

bird's-eye primrose flowers

Bird’s-eye Primrose Primula farinosa is a rarer native wild flower found in damp meadows on limestone in Northern England, Europe and Asia. It flowers from May to June.

polyanthus crescendo wine flowers

Primula ‘Crescendo Wine’ is a popular Polyanthus 

japanese primrose flowers

Japanese Primrose Primula japonica is a species native to Japan. It was introduced to Britain in 1871 by Robert Fortune, the Scottish botanist.

Japanese Primrose 'Miller's Crimson’ flowers

Japanese Primrose ‘Miller’s Crimson’  is a popular cultivar.