Archive for the ‘Family: Primrose’ Category

The cowslip or gullviva in Swedish is well known by many here in Sweden. I found it blooming in the grassy area between two buildings in Stockholm in May, all of the golden flowers pointing down hill towards the sun. They say this flower’s English name was given to it because it was likely to see it growing in cow dung or in slippery and boggy land.

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

Peering into the flower, you can see 5 orange-red spots. But mostly these flowers keep their heads down, all bunched at the top of a 10 to 25 cm hairy stem, dangling above a mass of wrinkly, downy, egg-shaped leaves.


Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

The cowslip has 2 kinds of flowers – ones on short stalks and ones on taller stalks. The short flowers must cross-fertilize with the tall ones for a good seed set (self-fertilization won’t lead to good offspring).

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

A few random facts (from Blommor i Sverige by Janzon and Mossberg):

РGullviva is the official flower of the Swedish province Närke

– It has been used as a stimulant, cosmetic and to cure sicknesses.

– You can eat the leaves like spinach or kale.

– The flowers and their nectar were once used for making wine.

– Gullviva was once called Saint Peter’s Keys based on the story that St. Peter dropped his keys to heaven and lost them. The angel who went to find them was helped by the flower that grew up around where the keys were dropped. This flower may look a little like a golden set of keys.

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