According to Mast et al. (2001) the Primulaceae family is made up of 24 genera, found throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. They are herbaceous annuals or perennials, with various leaf arrangements, but never have stipules. The flower arrangements vary, but most are striking and colourful making them popular garden plants.

Cyclamen hederifolium is an introduced and naturalised species which is widely planted in shady places in gardens and is a common site in the woodland on campus. Although it is native in southern France to western Turkey, including Mediterranean islands, it is hardy under British conditions. Quite unmistakable when in flower, sporting flowers borne singly on long pedicels directly from the corm. The flower faces downwards, and has five petals in a corolla tube, reflexed strongly, horizontally to vertically.

A nice patch of Cyclamen hederifolium found in the Harris Garden. Taken by Tom Cooper.

A nice patch of Cyclamen hederifolium found in the Harris Garden. Taken by Tom Cooper.

Cyclamen persicum is very similiar in appearance to C. hederifolium but is not as hardy and is unlikely to be seen surviving a winter outside on campus or anywhere in Britain. If in doubt, check where the roots emerge from the tuber: C. persicum roots from the bottom, while C. hederifolium roots from the top and sides.


Primula vulgaris in full bloom

Primula vulgaris in full bloom

The type genus Primula has approximately 425 temperate species, with a few in more tropical areas (Richards, 1993). Primula vulgaris (Primrose) is a colourful and common member of the genus, native in woodlands, hedgebanks and damper grassy areas in the UK. On campus Primroses can be found in the Wilderness woodland so look out for the characteristic rosette of leaves (visible now)  and then the flowers which appear from early spring through to autumn.


Mast, A. R., Kelso, S., Richards, A. J., Lang, D. J., Feller, D. M. S., Conti, E. (2001). Phylogenetic relationships in Primula L. and related genera (Primulaceae) based on noncoding chloroplast DNA. International Journal of Plant Science. 6: 1381-1400. 

Richards, J., 1993. Primula. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. 


This entry was posted in Flowering Plants, Plants, Primulaceae. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Primulaceae

  1. Primulaceae is now a rather larger family as it incorporates all of Myrsinaceae in the APG3 system. This makes for a rather difficult to define family with a broad distribution.

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