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Edible Edible Spring Spring Summer Summer

Prima rosa is the Latin for ‘first rose’ and it is usually one of the first flowers of spring.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Primrose, Common Primrose, English Primrose
Scientific Name Primula vulgaris
Season Start Mar
Season End Jun
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Dark green, oblong and crinkly.


Pale yellow, with five petals. Deeper yellow markings towards the middle. Flowering from February to June.

Flower Stem

Green to red, hairy and with one flower at the end of each stalk.


Edges of grassland and woodland, grassy banks and shady places.

Possible Confusion

The Cowslip, pictured, which is edible.
Other primulas, but stick to the yellow flowering varieties and you will be safe.




The flowers are refreshing and sweet and the young leaves can be used as a green vegetable or in salads.




This plant was over used in the past and was less common but it seems to have made a recovery as it is now a common site in the countryside.

Medicinal Uses

Extracts from the roots have been used commercially in cough syrups and used to treat arthritis and rheumatism. The leaves and flowers can also be used as a tea to alleviate anxiety, insomnia and even migranes.

Other Facts

Primroses were traditionally used to dress corpses and for throwing onto graves.


2 comments for Primrose

  1. FranC says:

    Why are the orange/purple varieties less safe?

    Video on youtube says roots are edibe, can anyone confirm? Obviously you destroy the plant but I’m interested for survival purposes.

    Thanks for a fantastic website by the way, I have bought your book, which is also excellent (better than the River Cottage one in my opinion, although that is pretty good).

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      A small handful of Primulas are mildly toxic and can cause skin irritation. To stay safe, stick to Primroses and Cowslips. Even these can cause slight contact dermatitis in some people.

      The roots of Primroses and Cowslips are said to be edible as a cooked vegetable although I have never tried them.

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