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Primula denticulata (drumstick primula)

The drumstick primula is the most common Himalayan primula in the wild and is very popular in cultivation.
White flowering head of drumstick primula

Primula denticulata

Species information

Scientific name: 

Primula denticulata Sm.

Common name: 

drumstick primula, tooth-leaved primula, purple Nepal cowslip

Conservation status: 

Not Evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Open, wet places.

Key Uses: 


Known hazards: 

Many species of Primula, including P. denticulata, contain primin and other quinoid compounds which are contact allergens.


Genus: Primula

About this species

Most of the primulas from China and the Himalaya now in cultivation were introduced in the 20th century, but a few found their way into European gardens in the 19th century, particularly species from the western and central Himalaya. Early collectors in this area included Joseph Hooker, Nathaniel Wallich and John Forbes Royle, who introduced seed of the drumstick primula, Primula denticulata.

James Edward Smith, a friend of Sir Joseph Banks and founder of the Linnean Society, described P. denticulata in the second volume of Exotic Botany, from a drawing made in India. Smith reports that this species was collected by Dr Francis Buchanan, ‘in moist parts of the hills about Chitlong’, in Nepal, where they flowered from February to April. It was some years later that seed of P. denticulata reached Britain, and was introduced into cultivation in 1842 by Messrs Veitch, who ran one of the largest plant nurseries in Europe.

The drumstick primula is the most common Himalayan Primula and by far the most widely cultivated of the species of primula grouped in section Denticulata.


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