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Japanese Cowslip

Primula japonica

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Primulaceae (Primrose)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
25 centimetres tall
Gardens, meadows, riversides, woodland.

Variable in colour, 5 petals
Whorls of flowers at the top the upright main stem. The ostentatious flowers can be of various colours, most often pink, red, purple and white.
Dry, splitting open when ripe, up to 8mm long.
Lettuce-like. Basal leaves only, simple and toothed, up to 10 inches long. Light green and wrinkly.
Other Names:
Candelabra Primrose, Candelabra Primula, Japanese Primrose.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Primula japonica, also known as Japanese primrose or Japanese cowslip, is a species of flowering plant in the primrose family (Primulaceae). It is native to Japan and Korea, where it grows in moist, shaded habitats such as forest clearings and stream banks. The plant is a perennial herb with a basal rosette of hairy, green leaves and a stem that bears clusters of showy, bowl-shaped flowers in shades of white, pink, or purple. The flowers bloom in the spring and are often used in floral arrangements. Primula japonica is also used medicinally and as a natural dye. It is closely related to other species of Primula, such as P. veris (cowslip) and P. officinalis (primrose).


Japanese Cowslip, also known as Primula japonica, is a beautiful and unique species of flowering plant native to Japan. This species of Primula is known for its delicate and vibrant blooms that are sure to brighten up any garden or indoor setting.

The Japanese Cowslip is a low-growing herbaceous plant that typically reaches a height of only 8 to 10 inches. It is an evergreen perennial that has leaves that are typically dark green and lance-shaped. The leaves are arranged in a rosette pattern at the base of the plant and provide an attractive backdrop for the delicate blooms.

The flowers of the Japanese Cowslip are what make this plant so special. They are typically produced in clusters of up to 10 blooms per stem and come in a range of colors including pink, purple, yellow, and white. Each bloom has five petals and a unique cup-like shape that makes them stand out in any garden or indoor setting. The blooms are fragrant and are produced in the spring and early summer.

This species of Primula is known for its adaptability and versatility. It is easy to care for and can be grown in a variety of conditions. It is a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance plant that will bring color and beauty to their gardens. Japanese Cowslip is also well-suited for growing in containers and can be grown indoors, making it a popular choice for those who live in areas with harsh climates.

When it comes to caring for the Japanese Cowslip, the key is to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. This plant prefers a rich, well-drained soil and will grow best in partial shade. It is important to protect the plant from strong winds and direct sunlight, as this can cause the leaves to scorch.

The Japanese Cowslip is a unique and beautiful species of flowering plant that is sure to bring color and beauty to any garden or indoor setting. Its adaptability and versatility make it a great choice for gardeners of all levels of experience, and its ease of care ensures that it will thrive for years to come. Whether you are looking for a plant to brighten up your garden or to add some color to your indoor space, the Japanese Cowslip is an excellent choice.

The Japanese Cowslip is also known for its medicinal properties. The roots, leaves, and flowers of the plant have been used for centuries in traditional Japanese medicine to treat a range of ailments, including respiratory problems, skin issues, and digestive problems. The plant is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.

However, it is important to note that the plant should not be ingested without proper medical supervision, as it can be toxic in large quantities. If you are interested in using the plant for its medicinal properties, it is recommended that you consult with a healthcare professional or traditional medicine practitioner.

In addition to its medicinal properties, the Japanese Cowslip is also popular for its ornamental value. The plant is a popular choice for rock gardens, woodland gardens, and wildflower gardens, as well as for adding color and texture to borders and patios. It is also a popular choice for cut flower arrangements, as the blooms have a long vase life and retain their color and shape even after they have been cut.

In Japanese culture, the Japanese Cowslip holds a special significance. It is associated with spring and is often used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. The delicate blooms of the plant symbolize purity and renewal, making it an appropriate gift for new beginnings and special occasions.

The Japanese Cowslip is a versatile and attractive species of flowering plant that is beloved by gardeners and botanists alike. Its adaptability, beauty, and unique properties make it a must-have for any garden or indoor collection. Whether you are interested in its ornamental value, medicinal properties, or cultural significance, the Japanese Cowslip is a plant that is sure to bring beauty and joy to your life.

Another interesting aspect of the Japanese Cowslip is its propagation. This plant is easy to propagate through division, making it a great choice for those who want to expand their collection or share it with friends and family. Simply divide the plant into smaller sections, making sure that each section has a healthy root system, and plant them in separate containers or in your garden.

In addition to division, the Japanese Cowslip can also be propagated through seeds. To do this, collect the seeds from the plant when they are ripe and plant them in a well-drained soil mix. Keep the soil moist and place the container in a bright, sunny location. The seeds should germinate within a few weeks, and with proper care, they will grow into healthy new plants.

Finally, it is important to consider the impact of invasive species when growing the Japanese Cowslip. While this species is not considered invasive in its native habitat, it has the potential to become invasive in other areas if it is not properly managed. If you are growing this plant in a region where it is not native, it is important to make sure that it does not escape into the surrounding natural areas and displace native plant species.

In conclusion, the Japanese Cowslip is a beautiful, versatile, and easy-to-care-for species of flowering plant that is sure to bring joy and beauty to your life. Whether you are growing it for its ornamental value, medicinal properties, or cultural significance, this plant is sure to be a cherished addition to your garden or indoor collection. With its ease of propagation, you can share its beauty with others and help ensure that it continues to thrive for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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