1. Family: Primulaceae Batsch ex Borkh.
    1. Genus: Primula L.
      1. Primula denticulata Sm.

        Most of the primulas from China and the Himalaya now in cultivation were introduced in the 20th century, but a few found their way into European gardens in the 19th century, particularly species from the western and central Himalaya. Early collectors in this area included Joseph Hooker, Nathaniel Wallich and John Forbes Royle, who introduced seed of the drumstick primula, Primula denticulata.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    The drumstick primula is the most common Himalayan primula in the wild and is very popular in cultivation.

    Most of the primulas from China and the Himalaya now in cultivation were introduced in the 20th century, but a few found their way into European gardens in the 19th century, particularly species from the western and central Himalaya. Early collectors in this area included Joseph Hooker, Nathaniel Wallich and John Forbes Royle, who introduced seed of the drumstick primula, Primula denticulata.

    James Edward Smith, a friend of Sir Joseph Banks and founder of the Linnean Society, described P. denticulata in the second volume of Exotic Botany, from a drawing made in India. Smith reports that this species was collected by Dr Francis Buchanan, ‘in moist parts of the hills about Chitlong’, in Nepal, where they flowered from February to April. It was some years later that seed of P. denticulata reached Britain, and was introduced into cultivation in 1842 by Messrs Veitch, who ran one of the largest plant nurseries in Europe.

    The drumstick primula is the most common Himalayan Primula and by far the most widely cultivated of the species of primula grouped in section Denticulata.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Widely distributed from eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, across the Himalaya to Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou in China.

    Description

    Primula denticulata is a perennial, deciduous, clump-forming plant with compact heads of many flowers, and overwinters as large, above-ground buds with thick roots.

    The winter buds of P. denticulata are surrounded by large, leathery scales. In spring and summer, the oblong, wrinkly leaves can grow up to 30 cm long and have a toothed margin. The spherical flower head is held on a stem up to 30 cm tall, is up to 8 cm across and composed of usually stalkless flowers. Flower colour varies from deep purple or blue, to pink or white but the normal colour is pinkish-purple or lilac, with a yellowish eye.

    Primula denticulata subsp. sinodenticulata, from north Burma and west China, is a robust plant with an elongated flower stem, up to six times the length of its leaves.

    The closely related species P. cachemeriana (syn. P. denticulata var. cachemeriana), from Kashmir, is sometimes seen in cultivation but it is not widely grown. It differs from P. denticulata in its pointed, yellow-mealy (with a powdery coating) resting bud and the narrow, very mealy leaves, which remain smooth until after the plant has flowered. Some authors classify this as a form of P. denticulata but Professor John Richards, a former chairman of the Alpine Garden Society and author of the monograph Primula, retains it as a separate species.

    Uses

    Primula denticulata is cultivated as an ornamental.

    Cultivation

    Primula denticulata is an easy, hardy garden plant that can be grown in a variety of soils but will not tolerate drying out in the summer months. It thrives in heavy garden soil in a border and is ideal for small gardens. It also does well in dappled shade.

    It is a clump-forming species that can be propagated by division in summer or autumn. Fresh seed can be sown from autumn to early spring. Root cuttings can also be taken when the plant is dormant.

    This species at Kew

    Primula denticulata can be seen in the in the Rock Garden at Kew and at Wakehurst. Other species of primula found in the Rock Garden and the Alpine House at Kew include Primula beesiana, Primula bulleyana, Primula verticillata and Primula vialii.

    Spirit-preserved, as well as pressed and dried specimens of Primula denticulata are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers, by appointment. The details, including an image, of one of these can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

    Distribution
    China
    Ecology
    Open, wet places.
    Conservation
    Not Evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    Many species of Primula, including P. denticulata, contain primin and other quinoid compounds which are contact allergens.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Afghanistan, Assam, China South-Central, East Himalaya, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet, West Himalaya

    Common Names

    English
    Drumstick primula

    Primula denticulata Sm. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 607], Nepal K001111397
    Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 607], India K001111398
    Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 607], India K001111399
    Govan, G. [Cat. no. 607], India K001111400
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 607], India K001111401
    Gomez, W. [Cat. no. 607] K001111402
    Forrest, G., China 17834.000
    Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 607], Nepal K000639662

    First published in Exot. Bot. 2: 109 (1808)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] Basak, S.K., Maiti, G. & Hajra, P.K. (2014) The Genus Primula L. in India . Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
    • [3] (2012) Phytotaxonomy 12: 33-56

    Literature

    • [2] Basak, S.K., Maiti, G. & Hajra, P.K. (2014) The Genus Primula L. in India . Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
    • [4] Beentje, H. (2010). The Kew Plant Glossary. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [5] The Plant List (2010). Version 1.
    • [6] Wilford, R. (2010). Alpines from Mountain to Garden. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [7] Frohne, D. & Pfänder, H.J. (2005). Poisonous Plants: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians. Second Edition (translated from German Fifth Edition, 2004). Manson, London.
    • [8] Richards, J. (2002). Primula (2nd ed). B.T. Batsford Ltd., London.
    • [9] Hooker, W.J. (1842). Primula denticulata. Curtis’s Bot. Mag. 68: t. 3959

    Sources

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [C]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [D] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [E] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0