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Primrose: Meaning and Symbolism

Primrose meaning and symbolism

Primroses are famous perennials known for their bright flowers and easy-care nature. The plant blooms in a wide array of bright colors like yellow, orange, pink, blue, purple, red, and bi-colors. The size and shape of the blooms also vary depending on the variety planted. Gardeners love these little flowers for their adaptability to most any type of soil or environmental conditions and the flowers are a staple in cottage gardens.

One variety, the evening primrose, only blooms at night. This night bloomer attracts moths for pollination, so blooming in the evening gives this variety the best advantage for reproducing.

As you may expect, a flower with so many bloom colors, shapes, and times will be surrounded with mystery and many meanings and symbolisms.

white primrose

Photo by henry perks


Primroses are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. The name ‘primrose’ means blooming first.

* When the flowers are given to someone, they can mean the recipient has been inconsistent and bashful in the relationship.

* The plant is also given to show someone that you can’t live without them.

* The English believe that a bouquet of 13 primrose blooms means good luck. More or fewer blooms can lead to bad luck.


Photo by Ahe Phucho


* The flower is a symbol of youth and everlasting existence.

* It’s a symbol of young love.

* The flower petals symbolize all of the stages of life – birth, life, consummation, and death.

* White flower typically means purity and innocence but the meaning of the white primrose is different. They are given to symbolize sadness and mourning.

* Red primrose flowers are given to symbolize passion.



Because the primrose blooms resemble a bunch of hanging keys, many legends about the plant involve keys. They are even called ‘Key Flowers’ in some parts of the world.

* One legend has it that the guard of the heavenly monastery of the apostle Peter dropped the keys to Paradise. As soon as the keys hit the ground, they sprouted into an amazingly beautiful flower. The flower was named primrose.

* In many parts of Europe primroses have been worshiped as the golden keys that open the road to the green kingdom in the spring. The plants are called the ‘Keys of Summer’.

* A German legend holds the belief that the first young lady to find these colorful flowers in the spring to use in a wedding bouquet would be the first to marry that year.

* Primrose blooms were used by the Druid priests to create a love potion during the time of the Celts.

* A Norse legend tells of Freya, the goddess of love, and the primrose was her sacred bloom. During ceremonies and rituals held to honor her, primrose petals were placed on her altars.


Photo by Mauro Zacconi

Health Benefits

Primrose has long been used to promote health and well-being. All parts of the plant are edible and are used in various home remedies. The roots and flowers have been used as emetics, sedatives, antispasmodics, and astringents for centuries.

* An old English tradition was to eat the young leaves in the spring on a salad and use the plant roots as a spice to promote year-long health.

* The plant is safe for human consumption but is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

* Boiling water was poured over crushed leaves to make a tea that was said to bring a person cheerfulness and health.

* The oil in the plant seeds contains omega-6 fatty acids. This essential fatty acid has anti-inflammatory properties and is used to reduce chronic inflammation in the body.

*  It is believed to help cure migraine, headaches, cough, congestion, PMS, arthritis, acne, and high cholesterol

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