Cowslip Primrose, Cowslip, St. Peter's Keys, Palsywort, Tisty-Tosty, Cowflops, Culver Keys
Primula veris

Family: Primulaceae
Genus: Primula (PRIM-yew-luh) (Info)
Species: veris (VER-iss) (Info)




6-12 in. (15-30 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer




Other details:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Seward, Alaska

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Royal Oak, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Helena, Montana

Hilton, New York

Geneva, Ohio

Coopersburg, Pennsylvania

Chimacum, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I was surprised and delighted to find that two cowslips I planted over a decade ago have prospered here in Boston Z6a with little care. They're very showy in bloom. They bloom well, and haven't suffered too badly from the slugs.

They're in dappled shade all day. The soil is a heavy acid silty urban mess, in a raised bed, with some organic amendment, and only watered sporadically during droughts. Though the books recommend frequent division, I have yet to divide either clump after 12 years.

I've never seen a self-sown seedling, but I don't know if that's due to site conditions/climate or to having two plants that can't cross-pollinate.

I was surprised by how well these have done, despite my negligence. They aren't often grown around here.


On Apr 17, 2010, gardeningfun from Harpersfield, OH (Zone 5a) wrote:

Bluestone Nursery sold this to me under the name "Cabrillo". It looks just like this and is a Primula. It is wonderful and so cute. It came up right away in early spring and started blooming last week. The blooms are really opening up now and growing taller each day. They are around 6" tall now. They look real healthy. I couldn't find anything on them under the name "Cabrillo", but when I searched the titsy-tosty sites, I saw this and it looks just like mine. I'll have to take a picture and figure out how to post it.
I live in a very cold, windy site and had tons of snow this winter and it did great.


On Dec 9, 2001, Baa wrote:

A variable, evergreen perennial from Europe.

Has slightly hairy rosettes of oblong-ovate, scalloped or toothed, mid green, wrinkled leaves. Bears drooping, yellow sometimes with orange spots at the base of the lobes, scented, funnel shaped flowers on one side of the flower stem and a light green conspicuous calyx.

The flower colour can vary from light yellow to deep red in cultivated forms.

Flowers April-July.

Likes a well drained, moist, fertile, lime soil in full sun or light shade.

Superb woodland or wild garden plant and will reward you with many seedlings if happy.

Can irritate sensitive skin.

Children used to suck the nectar from the flowers and the scent is a little like cow's b... read more