The primrose is native to Britain and grows in woods and hedgerows. World wide there are around 350 species of this little flowering plant and it is well-loved in the UK, along with snowdrops and bluebells as it is a harbinger of spring. The name primrose cones from Mediaeval Latin, primerosa, meaning “first rose.” It has five petals and can be a creamy-yellow through to a deeper shade of yellow. It is closely related to the cowslip and has similar medicinal properties to it, and another close relation is the Oxlip (Primula elatior). The Evening Primrose however belongs to a different plant family, Oenothera.
   It has figured in English literature through the centuries, with Shakespeare giving us the well-known image of the primrose path in Ophelia’s speech to Hamlet in the play of that name in 1602.
    “…..But my good brother,
     Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
     Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
     Whiles, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,
     Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
     A reeks not his own rede.”
The “primrose path” is a life of ease and pleasure, but if you follow it calamity will ensue. Shakespeare later writes of the “primrose way” in the Scottish play, “Macbeth” but this phrase is not alliterative and the former has found its way into the English language.
  “Macbeth” Act 2 scene 3:
   “This place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter it no further: I had thought to have let in some of all professions, that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.”
  Later in the 17th century, the metaphysical poet, John Donne wrote a poem called “The primrose which likens it to a woman. Here are the first lines from it: -
 “Upon this primrose hill,
   Where, if heaven should distil
   A shower of rain, each several drops might go
   To his own primrose, and grow manna so;
   And where their form and their infinity
   Make a terrestrial galaxy,
   As the small stars do in the sky;
   I walk to find a true love….”
He goes on: -
   “Live primrose, then, and thrive
    With thy true number five;
    And, woman, whom this flower doth represent,
    With this mysterious number be content…”
Much later in 1922 D.H. Lawrence wrote a short story which he called “The Primrose Path.”
  The little primrose is native to most of Europe, but there are some varieties in the British Isles which are unique, such as the Scottish Primrose, Primula scotia and the Bird’s Eye Primrose (Primula farinosa) which grows in Northern England. In the language of flowers it symbolizes the feeling of “I can’t live without you”, unlike the Evening primrose which stands for inconstancy.
   The primrose flowers in April and lasts through May, and the whole plant is best gathered while it is in flower, although please note that it is illegal to harvest the wild plants in the UK. You may be lucky enough to have them in your garden if your house was built on old woodland. (I was.) The roots of a plant that is two or three years old are the ones that should be used for medicinal purposes, and these should be cleaned thoroughly in cold water, using a nail brush to get rid of all the earth that will be attached. You also have to remove the hair-like growths from them. If the tubers are large (which is rare) you can split them in half lengthways so that they dry more quickly. The flowers and root yield a fragrant oil which can be used to calm hysterics and used to be made into a delicately fragranced wine.
  The whole plant has sedative properties and a tisane can be given to hyperactive children. Gerard the 16th century herbalist wrote that “Primrose tea drunk in the month of May is famous for curing the phrenzies.” The tisane recipe is given below.
  Culpeper wrote “Of the leaves of Primrose is made as fine a salve to heal wound as any I know.” This is a good recommendation; use pulped primrose leaves for any wound.
   The roots like those of the cowslip are good for bronchial problems, and used as an expectorant to get rid of mucus, and they were also used for rheumatism. The leaves and flowers can produce sweat during a fever, relieve pain, and act as an expectorant and diuretic. The plant has antispasmodic properties and has been used to rid the body of intestinal worms, as an emetic (to produce vomiting) and as an astringent (wound healing). When the whole plant (and flowers) is boiled then the primrose acts as a sedative.
 The ancient physicians of Myddfai had their own use for primrose:-
“Whosoever shall have lost his reason or his speech, let him drink the juice of primrose, within two months afterward, and he shall recover.”
However, perhaps these tisanes are more effective remedies.

2-3 tsps fresh plant top including flowers
1-2 tsps dried whole herb
1 cup boiling water

Pour the water over the herb and leave to steep for 10 mins.
Strain and drink in slow sips.
This tisane is to relieve pain, act as a sedative, expectorant and diuretic.

½ oz dried chopped roots
1 pint water
Put the chopped roots and water in a pan and bring to the boil.
Boil for about 20 mins or until the water is reduced by half.
Use this for bronchial problems and coughs.
These have Taste and are Treat(ment)s.

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