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Red and Yellow Cowslips

The Vernales section of Primulas includes the European species: The native UK Woodland Primrose Primula Acaulis, the meadow Cowslip, Primula Veris, The Oxlip Primula Elatior, The Birds-Eye Primrose Primula Farinosa and The Scots Primrose Primula Scotica. The Oxlip is now quite rare in the UK, growing only in a few woods in East Anglia. The cowslip, still quite common in meadows, sometimes occurs with red flowers, rather than the common yellow, and this, crossed with the common


Primrose, or a related European species, Primula altaica, and possibly the Oxlip, gave rise to the plant we now know as The Polyanthus (meaning multi-headed). The common primrose, P.acaulis, grows in woodlands all across the UK except in Scotland, where it is replaced by the Scots Primrose, P.Scotica. It is normally pale yellow, though occasionally, you may find white ones and pale pink varieties. P.Scotica, as the name suggests, is found only in the highlands of Scotland, and is purple in colour. Similar to Primula Scotica is the Bird's Eye Primrose, P.Farinosa, which is confined to the North East of England, though it is becaming very scarce in the wild. The Birds-eye primrose is pale purple. The Cowslip, P.Veris, is still quite common in meadows across the UK, though it is becoming more scarce through intensive farming and building works. The Cowslip has deep yellow nodding flowers. The rarest of all though, is The Oxlip, P.Elatior, which now only exists in the UK in less than half-a-dozen woods in East Anglia. This is similar to the Cowslip, with with larger, paler yellow flowers. Another problem for the Oxlip is that where it grows, there are also primroses and cowslips nearby, and they all inter-breed, producing various hybrids, which is threatening the original species. It is thought this is how the first polyanthus occurred. Now go to Candelabra primulas

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