How to recognise the cowslip?
The cowslip (Primula veris) is a spring flower. It is a perennial plant, which
means that the same plant grows and blossoms in the same place for many years.
Species that can be sometimes mixed up with cowslip are the oxlip (Primula elatior) and the common primrose
(Primula vulgaris). Primula species can also easily
hybridize with each other. Make sure you find the cowslip when making the
The cowslip is an herbaceous plant with the
average height range from 10 to 30 cm. It has green elongated leaves up to 20
cm long. One plant can have multiple stems. Cowslip has deep yellow bell-shaped
nodding flowers with orange dots in clusters of 5 to 16 blooms together,
usually keeping to one side.
distinguish the cowslip from other similar species?
Compared to the oxlip, cowslip’s flowers are
smaller, they are bright yellow and small orange spots are visible inside the
flower. The flowers of oxlips are usually larger and pale yellow. Cowslip’s
flowers are bell-shaped, while the flowers of the oxlip keep are more open. The
common primrose has a short stalk and the flowers are very pale yellow or even
white. Different primroses are also common plants grown in home gardens and can
easily spread from the garden to the wild. They can have flowers of different
colors, such as purple, red, orange and pink. Cowslip has only bright yellow
flowers in nature.
Cowslips are one of the first heralds of the
spring. It depends on the region and the weather, but it usually begins to
blossom at the beginning of May and flowers for a couple of weeks. In cooler
weather, the blossoming can also begin later and last until mid-June. In warmer
regions, however, flowering can start already in April.
does the cowslip grow?
The cowslip is quite common in Europe with a
Red List status of 'least concern'. However, due to loss of habitats, it is not
doing so well anymore. Cowslips prefer dry or moderately moist limey soils,
which are more common in coastal areas. However, this does not mean that cowslips
do not occur on more acidic soils as well. Cowslips can be found growing in traditionally
managed grasslands, parks, forest edges and by the roadside. It usually prefers
What to do when the flower doesn’t look like either flower type?
Although very rare, it is possible to find such plants that are neither an S-morph or an L-morph. These are so called middle types, where the style and anthers are at the same length - we call them homostyles. Homostylous individuals can evolve during a mutation and all the flowers of the same plant should look the same. If you happen to find such plants, you can skip counting them for the observation, but please let us know about them! You can add a comment to the observation form and add a picture of the homostyle flower but it would be very useful if you send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the picture and exact location where the flower was found. This way we can collect a leaf sample for genetic analyses or when possible we ask you to send the leaf material to us. With reporting such findings you can help us understand heterostyly on a whole other level.