A simple guide on how to tell the difference between the Spring primula family is as follows …
The Primrose, Primula vulgaris – is the shortest of the plants with pale yellow flowers with slightly darker centres growing singularly on short stems. It likes to grow in shady places. Its leaves are oval, crinkly-edged and fairly even.
Primrose – Primula vulgaris
The Cowslip, Primula veris – is long-stemmed, up to 25 cm. The flowers form in groups on the top of the stems. The petals are small and a deep golden yellow.
Cowslip – Primula veris
The Oxlip, Primula elatior – is usually shorter than the cowslip, growing up to 20 cm. It is quite rare and is mostly resident in South East England. It is easy to spot as its flowers, which sit on the top of the stem, all face the same direction.
Oxlip – Primula elatior
The False oxlip, Primula veris x vulgaris as its Latin name suggests, is in fact, a hybrid formed from the close proximity of a cowslip and primrose producing seedlings of sturdy flowers. These grow the same height as the Oxlip but their umbels fall in all directions similar to its cowslip parent.
False oxlip – Primula veris x vulgaris
These beautiful False oxlips suddenly appeared in my garden. It was a lovely surprise as I have had both primroses and cowslips for many years and it is the first time that they have produced a mixed off-spring and what wonderful plants they are.