Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Primula Vulgaris -Primrose

This last Winter of ours here in Britain has certainly been long, I for one have been craving the Sunshine and a little warmth for a while. So these past few sunny days have been a real treat escaping the confines of the oh so boring house into the garden.

My first harvest of this 2013 year was the wonderful Tap root of Dandelion/ Taraxacum off. Radix last new moon saw me digging them up, I have been eyeing a particularly juicy one for a few days before hand and it was extremely pleasurable getting up as much of the milky foot as possible, these amazingly hardy creatures always manage to leave a piece of themselves in the soil. I washed and grated my roots put them all in a jar and covered with vodka where I shall leave them for the next lunar cycle to infused and bleed all of their nourishment, medicine and magic into the menstum.

Today on this waxing Cancerian moon I spent a delightful hour harvesting the delicate pale yellow creamy blooms of the Primrose. My partner's Ma was over from Austria last autumn whilst I was away and her idea of gardening slightly differs from mine so when I returned home my front beds were 'weeded' which took some getting used to but she divided all my primroses along the beds so this spring I have loads of pretty blooms lining my path.

Primula vulgaris is often used as a remedy for muscular cramps, headaches and as a sedative it is normally the root which is deployed in herbal medicine but the flowers contain very similar compounds and make a delicious tea.

I have been using it in a anti-cough tea specifically as an anti-spasmodic and expectorant, it’s been excellent for my little one. She has been grazing on the flowers on the way to school too.

Over all the vibe I get from this wonderful plant is cooling, soothing and relaxing –and most of us can benefit from these qualities especially at this time of intense action as all of nature wakes up around us.

There are two kinds of flowers, externally looking identical, but are differently constructioned. Only one kind is found on each plant, never both, one kind being known as 'pin-eyed' (with the capita of the style prominent) and the other as 'thrumeyed'(with the stamens prominent).

In both, the green-tubed calyx and the pale yellow corolla of five petals, joined into a tube below and spreading into a disk above are identical, but in the centre of the pin-eyed flowers there is only the green knob of the stigma, looking like a pin's head, whereas in the centre of the thrum-eyed flowers there are five anthers, in a ring round the tube, but no central knob. Farther down the tube, there are in the pin-eyed flowers five anthers hanging on to the wall of the corolla tube, while in the thrum-eyed, at this same spot, is the stigma knob. 

Fertilisation can only take place between pin and thrum plants. Pin to pin and thrum to thrum pollination is ineffective.

It was Darwin who first pointed out the reason for this arrangement. Only a long tongued insect can reach the nectar at the base of the tube and when he starts collecting the nectar on a pin-eyed flower, pollen is rubbed on the middle part of his proboscis from the anthers midway down the tube. As he goes from flower to flower on the same plant, there is the same result, but when he visits another plant with thrum-eyed flowers, then the pollen on his proboscis is just in the right place to rub on the stigma which only reaches half-way up the tube, his head meanwhile getting pollen from the long stamens at the throat of the tube, which in turn is transferred to the tall stigmas of the next pin-eyed flower he may visit. Thus both kinds of flowers are cross-fertilized, clever nature eh!