In former times the primrose grew wild in great profusion and the flowers were used in cooking. It was also believed to be a good remedy for rheumatism and for muscular complaints. The tea was taken for hysterics.
The primrose, primula vulgaris, with its pale yellow flowers is a very pretty little spring flowering plant. It grows along hedge banks and railway cuttings and can sometimes be found growing in woodland. Primrose is no longer a common wild flower. Nowadays it is grown in the flower garden where it is one of the earliest plants to bloom. The wrinkled, deeply-veined leaves grow in a flat rosette and the flowers on single stems growing 4—9 in (10—23 cm) high appear in March and April, their yellow petals becoming darker towards the centre. Both the flowers and the root are refreshingly fragrant.
In the kitchen, primroses can be used to make a refreshing and delicate-flavoured wine. They can be used in salads or candied as a decoration for cakes and desserts.
Primrose is a perennial plant and if left undisturbed will gradually spread. Set out primrose plants a hand- span apart either in the autumn or the spring for flowering the following year.
All parts of the primrose are used in the home. The roots of two- or three-year-old plants should be dug up in the autumn. The root is the only part of the plant to be dried and after scrubbing and chopping into small pieces it is then dried and stored in the usual way.
An infusion made from the flowers is said to be calming for those suffering from nervous tension. It is also effective for headaches and migraines and general debility. Taken hot last thing at night it will be helpful for those who cannot sleep.
* To make an infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of fresh crushed flowers and leave to infuse for 5 minutes before straining.
An ointment made from primrose leaves is believed to heal cuts and abrasions.
* To make the ointment: Melt 4 heaped tablespoons of white petroleum jelly in an enamel pan and add a handful of fresh chopped primrose leaves, pressing them down with a wooden spoon, Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain immediately into small pots and cover when cold.
Primrose is an astringent herb and an infusion of the fresh flowers is slightly bleaching. It will help to fade freckles when used on a regular basis.
* To make a skin lotion: Pour 4 cups of boiling water on to a handful of flowers. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes then strain. Pour the infusion into screwtop jars and store in the cool or in the refrigerator. Use the lotion to dab on to the skin night and morning and leave it to dry. Use the lotion also against premature wrinkles on the face.
* Use the ground and powdered dried herb to add fragrance to potpourris.