March 18th, 2012

latin:  Primula veris

Irish:  Bainne bó bleachtáin


This very familiar native wild flower is from the same genus as the Primrose (Primula vulgaris) and closely resembles it.  The most striking differences are that while the Primrose produces relatively large and solitary flowers, the Cowslip produces clusters of smaller flowers on the top of each stalk.

Even before flowering it differs from Primrose.  Primrose leaves gradually taper at the base whereas Cowslip leaves are abruptly contracted at the base and have a distinct winged petiole.

Hybrids between the two are not uncommon. In the hybrid, flowers are produced in clusters but they are larger than those of Cowslip.


Cowslips are an underused but valuable medicinal herb. They have a very long history of medicinal use and have been particularly employed in treating conditions involving spasms, cramps, paralysis and rheumatic pains. The plant contains saponins, which have an expectorant effect, and salicylates which are the main ingredient of aspirin.  However, it is also known that some people are allergic to parts (stamens) of this plant so care should be taken with it’s use.

Specimens were recorded in the Builder’s Paddock and in the Avenue Field.

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