Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Primrose

1.  Information from my mother who was 93 years old last week:  Her mother [who lived on the Isle of Wight] used to cook primroses in a pie, due to low income, and the children (my mother and aunt) would be sent to pick the primroses from the woods/hedgerows [Storrington, West Sussex, October 2015].

2.  During my childhood (1960s/70s in a village on the Kent/East Sussex border) we picked wild primroses and decorated small baskets of eggs with them to take to old people in the community in Holy Week. I remember this stopping in the mid/late 1970s when concerns were raised about a fall in the number of wildflowers in the hedgerows [Bristol, September 2013].

3. As a child in rural west Dorset in the late 1950s I remember being told that if a primrose root is planted upside down it will produce red flowers. I tried this at least once, but it didn’t work [Balham, London, November 2011].

0244. Collected from an elderly lady at Payhembury, Devon, on 4 December 2003 …
Don’t bring one or two primroses into the house. Bring a whole bunch. Otherwise your chickens and ducklings will die.
[She] was highly sceptical about [this]. She had reared chickens, ducks and geese all her working life, and had never paid any attention to it [Bath, Somerset, December 2003].

5. P O’S [70+ of … Ballinahinch, Birdhill, Co. Tipperary] told me some of his childhood plant memories on 17 October 1999 … Primrose (Primula vulgaris) flowers were known as goslings as they were in bloom when goslings hatched [Clonlara, Co. Clare, June 2002].

6. [Shetland, 1970s] everything is late there, primroses are may flowers – that’s the local name for primroses [Stockwell, London, March 1998].

7. A lady who lived near here had the ‘primrose cure’ … I don’t know the recipe, but the primrose was one of the plants used, she had to dig for the roots in winter-time. It was an ointment, made with beef or mutton suet, and was very good. It was used to treat even quite bad cases of burns and scalds and was always successful [Lenamore, Co. Longford, April 1991].

8. [c.1925?] A gypsy cure for skin complaints on the face: take three primrose leaves and boil them in a pint of water, drink the water [Corscombe, Dorset, March 1975].

Images: main, Port Isaac, Cornwall, March 2014; inset Gillingham, Dorset, April 2015.