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Cowslip Primula veris

Primula veris is a flowering plant frequently found on open ground, including fields, meadows, coastal dunes and clifftops.

The plant suffered a decline due to changing agricultural practices throughout Britain in the 1970s and 1980s and is now rare in some locations. However, the seeds are often included in wildflower seed mixes used to landscape motorway banks where the plants may be seen in dense stands. This practice has led to a revival in its fortunes.

The green rosettes of crinkly leaves are covered in fine velvet hairs. The flowers appear in spring and several flower stems are produced, each crowned by a one-sided cluster of long, funnel-shaped blooms, rich yellow with a sweet fragrance. Each individual stem can produce 10 - 30 blooms.

Cowslip leaves are traditionally used in Spanish cooking as a salad leaf. In Britain, the flowers are used to flavour wine and vinegars

Species from the genus Primula along with other ritual plants played a significant role in the pharmacy and mythology of the Celtic druids, likely as an ingredient of magical potions to increase the absorption of other herbal constituents. In the Middle-Ages it was also known as St. Peter's herb or Petrella and was very sought after by Florentine apothecaries. In folk medicine, it was used as a sedative, an anti-rheumatic and for gout.

Other common names include key flower, key of heaven, fairy cups, petty mulleins, crewel, buckles and lady’s keys.

Primula veris is the County Flower of Northamptonshire, Surrey and Worcestershire

You can adopt a seed from this species for £250. Your donation will be used towards the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, ensuring this species is kept safe in the vaults forever, and to collect more species in the future.

In addition to receiving your adoption pack featuring your certificate and photograph of the species (this will be posted to you, or the recipient), you will be invited to the County Flower sponsor's event at the Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst where you can meet the staff and see the vaults where your species is stored.

If you have any questions, please contact Jill Taylor on 020 8332 3248 or j.taylor@kew.org.

Thanks to Wolfgang Stuppy for the images.

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