British Wildlife Wiki
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Cowslip flowers - D Shenton

Cowslip (Primula veris) is a flowering plant in the genus Primula. The species is found throughout most of temperate Europe and Asia, and although absent from more northerly areas including much of northwest Scotland, it reappears in northernmost Sutherland and Orkney.


The common name cowslip derives from the Old English cūslyppe meaning "cow dung", probably because the plant was often found growing amongst the manure in cow pastures.

The species name vēris means "of spring".

Folk names include Cowslip, Cuy lippe, Herb Peter, Paigle, Peggle, Key Flower, Key of Heaven, Fairy Cups, Petty Mulleins, Crewel, Buckles, Palsywort, Plumrocks.


Primula veris is a low growing herbaceous perennial plant with a rosette of leaves 5–15 cm long and 2–6 cm broad. The deep yellow flowers are produced in the spring between April and May; they are in clusters of 10-30 together on a single stem 5–20 cm tall, each flower 9–15 mm broad. Red-flowered plants occur rarely.


Cowslip is frequently found on more open ground than Primula vulgaris including open fields, meadows, and coastal dunes and clifftops. The seeds are often included in wild-flower seed mixes used to landscape motorway banks and similar civil engineering earth-works where the plants may be seen in dense stands.