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Primroses-art - 5/27/17


"Roses, Primroses and Evening Primroses" by Mistress Agnes deLanvallei.


NOTE: See also the files: roses-art, rose-hips-msg, rose-oil-msg, rose-water-msg, gardens-msg, flowers-msg, flower-waters-msg, Scentd-Oils-W-art.





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Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Roses, Primroses and Evening Primroses

by Mistress Agnes deLanvallei 

March 2005


Roses, primroses and evening primroses have nothing in particular in common except the "r-o-s-e" in their common English names.


Rose:  Rosa spp. Rose Family, Rosaceae.  This is the garden rose.  The Rose Family is a big and important family of plants including apples, peaches, cherries, pears, quince, apricot, almond, plums, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, hawthorn, and many others; some 85 genera and 3000 species with a worldwide distribution but especially Northern Hemisphere (Simpson and Ogorzaly 2001; Judd et al. 2002). 


250 species are recognized in the genus Rosa (Simpson and Ogorzaly 2001).  European civilization has valued and cultivated roses since prehistory.  They are recognized from ancient Persia and Egypt, through the Greeks and Romans.  They were incorporated into Christian symbolism in the Middle Ages (not without some objections from ascetics) and appear in Medieval Europe food, fragrances, medicine and art.  (Goody 1993, Simpson and Ogorzaly 2001). 


Primrose: Primroses are Primula spp. in the Primrose Family, Primulaceae.  Primroses are a genus of 425 species in Europe (33 species ) and Asia (294 species) (Mabberley 2002).  Most are herbs and many have attractive flowers. Northern Europeans have cultivated Primula species, especially P. vera for a long time.  The name Primula is based on primus, "first" in Latin and refers to its early (spring) flowers (Coombes 1985).


The family Primulaceae is not closely related to the Rosaceae and includes Dodecatheon (shooting star) and Anagalis (scarlet pimpernel).


The source I have for linking primroses to roses is the dictionary: Latin primulus or primula shifting to Middle English and Old French primerole and then changing to primrose in English because of the similarity of "rose" and "role" (Guralnik and Friend 1962).


As far as I can tell, nobody eats Primula.  The PDR for Herbal Medicines (Gruenwald et al. 2000) lists Primula veris by the common name cowslip (totally different from Eastern US cowslips!) and suggest that it has some herbal efficacy but overdoses cause nausea and diarrhea (and to beware of allergic reactions).


Evening primrose:  Evening primroses are Oenothera spp. in the evening primrose family, Onagraceae.  Oenothera is a genus of 120 species of North American herbs.  The most widespread in Calontir Oenothera biennis, the common evening primrose, which is a roadside weed across much of the U.S. (see USDA Plants data base). Evening primroses often open in the evening with quite showy, evening or night- blooming flowers. They are not native to Europe and probably did not reach Europe until after the Middle Ages.


The Onagraceae a plant family of 16 genera and 650 species of the New World, especially western North and South America (Judd et al. 2002).  Other plants in that family include fuchsia (Fuschia) and (clarkia) Clarkia grown for showy flowers.


To me evening primroses don't look anything like primroses or roses, but you could probably find a yellow-flowered Primula that has some similarity to Oenothera biennis


Evening primrose oil taken as capsules is approved in Germany for treatment of various ailments and the PDR for Herbal Medicines (Gruenwald et al. 2002) cautions against "lowered seizure thresholds" in people treated with the oil.  In short, a potent medicine:  don't eat evening primroses.


Literature Cited


Coombes, A. J. 1985. Dictionary of plant names. Timber Press, Portland OR.


Goody, J. 1993. The culture of flowers. Cambridge University Press, London.


Gruenwald, J., T. Brendler and C Jaenicke (editors) 2000. PDR for herbal medicines. Medical Economics Company, Montvale NJ.


Guralnik, D. B. and J.H. Friend [editors.]. 1962. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. College Edition. World Publishing Company, New York.


Judd, W. S., C. S. Campbell, E. A. Kellogg, P. F. Stevens, and M. J. Donoghue. 2002. Plant systematics. 2nd ed. Sinauer Associates, Publishers, Sunderland MA.


Mabberley, D. J. 2002. The Plant-Book. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, London.


Simpson, B.B. and M. C. Ogorzaly. 2001. Economic botany. 3rd ed. McGraw-Hill, New York.


Copyright 2009 by Holly Howarth. <sablegreyhound at hotmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org