The Pin and the Thrum of it.

This is going to be a post about Primroses. I am writing about them because they are in flower, they are beautiful and useful and they are interesting.

1Primula vulgaris is unmistakeable. Each flower grows on a single stalk, it has five pastel yellow petals and some interesting things going on in the centre that we will talk about in a minute.

2They flower in February and go on into May. That makes them one of our first wild flowers to appear and a very welcome sight.

I don’t think that we have to spend too long on identification because everyone knows Primroses.

3So Primroses are edible and useful for the forager. The leaves are quite mild like lettuce and I usually pick a few just to balance the stronger herby flavours of wild food. The flowers are edible too.

A word of caution here. My children are grown up but I would be very cautious of teaching children that it is all right to eat flowers. It isn’t! Some of them are very poisonous.

4Anyway we have done this in another post. If you forage for primroses be sensible and only take a little, try and leave the area so that nobody would ever notice the difference.

Whatever you do DON’T TELL THE MICE!


Mice don’t have any respect for anything and they are very fond of Primroses. They don’t seem to bother with any of the other flowers but in the lane where I pick my primroses they have been devastated. They only eat the pastel part of the petal, they don’t seem to like the centres.

Let’s talk about the interesting centres now.

6Primrose flowers are hermaphrodite. That means that each flower has both male (Stamens) and female (Pistil) parts but each plant has a sexual bias and that is where the “Pin and the Thrum” come in.

In a Pin flower the pistil is prominent and the stamens are held back within the flower. From the outside it looks like this.

7If you look inside you can see that the stamens are there but they are just not showing.

7.1A Thrum flower is just the opposite.

8This time you can see that the pistil is retained inside the flower and the stamens are prominent.

8aEach plant has it’s own identity and all of the flowers on that plant will be the same. Fertilisation only occurs between a pin and a thrum even though all plants have both parts.

So that is Primroses, beautiful, useful and interesting.




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