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Primula vialii (orchid primrose)

Primula vialii is a striking perennial, with unusual spikes of pinkish flowers, tipped with red.
Orchid primrose flowers at Kew Gardens

Primula vialii at Kew Gardens

Species information

Scientific name: 

Primula vialii Delavay ex Franch.

Common name: 

orchid primrose, red-hot poker primrose, Chinese pagoda primrose

Conservation status: 

Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria, but not considered to be at risk in the wild.

Habitat: 

Wet meadows and sparse woodland.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental.

Known hazards: 

Avoided by grazing animals, but no known hazards to humans.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Asteranae
Order: 
Ericales
Family: 
Primulaceae
Genus: Primula

About this species

Primula vialii was found by the Scottish plant hunter George Forrest (1873-1932), and was named P. littoniana after his friend, Consul G. Litton of Tengyueh (on the Burma-China frontier), who had provided considerable help in his travels in the locality. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the eccentric English writer on mystic and occult subjects, also travelling in China, reported meeting 'a botanist named George Forrest' and described how, when the unfortunate Litton fell ill, 'Forrest and I galloped furiously into the darkness' to get a doctor. Sadly, it was too late, and Litton subsequently died. The name P. littoniana is now relegated to a synonym, as the plant had in fact already been named P. vialii by another plant hunter, the French missionary botanist Père Delavay.

Synonym: 

Primula littoniana

Genus: 
Primula

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