Primula is a genus of 400–500 species of flowering herbaceous plants in the family Primulaceae. They include primrose, auricula, cowslip and oxlip. Many species are grown for their ornamental flowers. They are native to the temperate northern hemisphere, south into tropical mountains in Ethiopia, Indonesia and New Guinea, and in temperate southern South America.
Perennial primulas bloom mostly during the spring; their flowers can be purple, yellow, red, pink, or white. Generally, they prefer filtered sunlight. Many species are adapted to alpine climates. The word primula is the Latin feminine diminutive of primus, meaning first (prime), applied to flowers that are among the first to open in spring. Primroses are used as food plants by the larvae (caterpillars) of some Lepidoptera species, including Duke of Burgundy butterfly, Large Yellow Underwing and Lesser Broad-bordered.
The term Polyanthus (often called Primula polyantha) refers to an interspecific garden hybrid between coloured varieties of P. vulgaris and P. veris, possibly with a small admixture of P. juliae. This has produced a large variety of strains in all colours, which are usually grown as annuals, and are available as seeds or young plants.
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