Primula is a genus of 400–500 species of mainly herbaceous flowering plants in the family Primulaceae. They include the familiar wildflower of banks and verges, the primrose [P. vulgaris]. These species and many others are valued for their ornamental flowers.
^ A modern garden primula cultivar.
They have been extensively cultivated and hybridized – in the case of the primrose, for many hundreds of years. Primulas are native to the temperate northern hemisphere, south into tropical mountains in Ethiopia, Indonesia and New Guinea, and in temperate southern South America. Almost half of the known species are from the Himalayas.
Primula is a complex and varied genus, with a range of habitats from alpine slopes to boggy meadows. Plants bloom mostly during the spring, with flowers often appearing in spherical umbels on stout stems arising from basal rosettes of leaves; their flowers can be purple, yellow, red, pink, blue, or white. Some species show a white mealy bloom [farina] on various parts of the plant. Generally, they prefer filtered sunlight. Many species are adapted to alpine climates.