English Primrose

Scientific Name: Primula acaulis or Primula vulgaris

Fact Box:

  • Order: Ericales
  • Family: Primulaceae
  • Genus: Primula
  • Species: P. acaulis or P. vulgaris


Meaning “first rose,” the English primrose is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, sometimes as early as December. Because of this, the primrose represents spring around the world. A native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, this herb flowers in the woods and in grasslands. Usually pale yellow, the primrose has garden varieties of red, orange, yellow, white, pink, or purple.


Don’t confuse the English primrose, aka the common primrose, with the common evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis), which belongs to the willowherb family.


The English primrose’s leaves and flowers can be eaten as herbs (the flavor is quite strong!) or made into teas. The flowers, raw or cooked, are sometimes also put into salads. Furthermore, the herb can be made into a medicine used to treat insomnia and headaches.


The UK loves primroses — in fact, April 19th is the UK’s primrose holiday! Speaking about the UK, its famous writer, Shakespeare coined a phrase called “the primrose path,” which refers to an easy but lazy path through life.