On day 193 of 354 Days Wild I spent some time with a group of very confused cowslips in the meadow. I first spotted one of these flowering a few weeks ago and was amazed then at the sight. Several more are now also in bloom.
Cowslips (Primula veris) are an early spring flower that usually bloom from April to May. A cousin of the Primrose, they can be found growing across the UK on road verges and in hedgerows, meadows, pastures, and woodlands. They thrive on dry, chalky soil. They’re far less common nowadays, though, than they once were. This is mainly due to the massive loss of grassland between 1930 and 1980 with the advance in modern farming techniques and use of chemical herbicides. The Cowslip is, however, making a comeback. Councils leaving road verges and village greens unsprayed, as well as people scattering wildflower seeds, has helped with their resurgence.
Their most well known name is Cowslip, which is said to be derived from ‘cowslop’, which means ‘cowpat’ – as that is where they tend to flower. Other names include Freckled Face, Golden Drops, Bunch of Keys, Key of Heaven, Fairies’ Flower, Lady’s Fingers, Paigles, Long Legs and Milk Maidens.
In the Language of Flowers they symbolise comeliness and grace. English folkloric tradition has them strewn on church paths for spring weddings and used in May Day garlands. They are the county flower of Essex, Northamptonshire, Surrey and Worcestershire.
In traditional herbal medicine, a tea made from their flowers acts as a light sedative and is used to treat insomnia, headaches and nervous tension. The flowers have also been used to treat coughs.
That’s all for today. Have you spotted any out of season flowers recently? Why not let me know in the comments below?