The botanical name primula veris indicates that cowslip (also known as primrose) is one of the first flowering plants to bloom in spring. Primula is derived from the Latin word primus, or “first”. Veris is also Latin and can be translated as “spring”. The plant’s English name may be due to the fact that it was often found growing among manure in cow pastures.

Primula veris
Primula veris


Plant family Primulaceae
Flowering season April to May
Harvest Flowers with calyx: April to May
Protection Cowslip is protected by law in many countries, making it prohibited to pick the plant when growing in the wild.
Vegetation Dry grassland, shrubs, sparse forests


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A favorite among poets and composers

Cowslip is a popular recurring plant in the worlds of music and poetry. Shakespeare mentioned cowslip in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while Johann Sebastian Bach describes the plant as “heavenly cowslip” in St John Passion. Last but not least, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote: “Primrose – I do not wish to aim for anything higher, because I love my simple dress. The greatest happiness in life comes from satisfaction.”

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