Spring flowers – the primrose

Primrose (Primula vulgaris). I love this pretty little spring flower that we find tucked away at the edges of our gardens, under walls, or hiding at the base of hedges. Flowering from as early as December in protected areas, it carries on through until as late as May.

We aren’t the only beings delighted to have its company in this cold and rather barren period as it provides valuable food for any hardy bees that are around in these months.

All parts of the plant are useful; the flowers and leaves are edible raw, such as in salads, or cooked as a vegetable, and both can be dried to make into teas. The roots too can be dug up at a couple of years old and either powdered or made into a tincture.

As well as being a source of Vitamin C and trace minerals, primroses contain saponins and salicylates, which have pain-killing, anti-inflammatory, fever reducing and expectorant effects.

There is a long history of primroses being used to reduce spasms, remedy nervous headaches and reduce rheumatic pain. The whole plant is a sedative and can be used to treat anxiety, insomnia and an inability to settle. The root can be made into an ointment and used to treat skin conditions such as spots and wrinkles, as well as to heal wounds. Beautiful, hardy and extremely useful – what more could we ask for from a plant?