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Primula vialii was found by the Scottish plant hunter George Forrest (1873-1932), and was named P. littoniana after his friend, Consul G. Litton of Tengyueh (on the Burma-China frontier), who had provided considerable help in his travels in the locality. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the eccentric English writer on mystic and occult subjects, also travelling in China, reported meeting 'a botanist named George Forrest' and described how, when the unfortunate Litton fell ill, 'Forrest and I galloped furiously into the darkness' to get a doctor. Sadly, it was too late, and Litton subsequently died. The name P. littoniana is now relegated to a synonym, as the plant had in fact already been named P. vialii by another plant hunter, the French missionary botanist Père Delavay.

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
Primula vialii is a striking perennial, with unusual spikes of pinkish flowers, tipped with red.

Primula vialii was found by the Scottish plant hunter George Forrest (1873-1932), and was named P. littoniana after his friend, Consul G. Litton of Tengyueh (on the Burma-China frontier), who had provided considerable help in his travels in the locality. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the eccentric English writer on mystic and occult subjects, also travelling in China, reported meeting 'a botanist named George Forrest' and described how, when the unfortunate Litton fell ill, 'Forrest and I galloped furiously into the darkness' to get a doctor. Sadly, it was too late, and Litton subsequently died. The name P. littoniana is now relegated to a synonym, as the plant had in fact already been named P. vialii by another plant hunter, the French missionary botanist Père Delavay.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Native to China (north and northwest Yunnan and southwest Sichuan), where it is found growing in wet meadows, near water in valleys, and in thickets of prickly oak bushes, from 2,800 to 4,000 m above sea level.

Description

Primula vialii has stout stems up to 60 cm tall, topped with spires of numerous, tiny, pinkish-purple flowers, which are red at the top of the spike when in bud. The flowers open from June to August. The leaves are erect, spear-shaped, softly hairy, and up to 30 cm long. Propagation is by seed.

Uses

Primula vialii is grown as an ornamental for its unusual spikes of pinkish flowers, tipped with red.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Two

Germination testing: 100% germination was achieved on a germination medium of 1% agar, at a temperature of 21°C, and a cycle of 12 hours of daylight / 12 hours of darkness

Cultivation

Primula vialii is easily grown from seed in fertile, reasonably moist but well-drained soils in a cool position. It can be grown in partial shade in woodland gardens and does especially well alongside streams or ponds, but can also be grown in open sites providing the soil is moist. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it their Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

This species at Kew

Primula vialii can be seen growing in the Rock Garden at Kew. Pressed and dried specimens are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

Distribution
China
Ecology
Wet meadows and sparse woodland.
Conservation
Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria, but not considered to be at risk in the wild.
Hazards

Avoided by grazing animals, but no known hazards to humans.

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[KSP]
Use
Ornamental.

Native to:

China South-Central

English
Orchid primrose

Primula vialii Delavay ex Franch. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Delavay, J.M. [3604], Yunnan K000732987 Unknown type material
Delavay, J.M. [3604], Yunnan K000732988 syntype

First published in Bull. Annuel Soc. Philom. Paris, sér. 8, 3: 148 (1891)

Accepted by

  • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (1996). Flora of China 15: 1-387. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis).

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

  • Hu, Q. & Kelso, S. (2011). Primulaceae: Primula vialii. In: Flora of China.
  • The Plant List, Version 1 (2010). Primula vialii.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. (2008) Seed Information Database (SID). Version 7.1.
  • Cullen, J. et al. (eds) (1997). The European Garden Flora, Vol. V. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Phillips, R. & Rix, M. (1991). Perennials, Vol.1. Pan Books Ltd, London.
  • Cowan, J.M. (ed.) (1952). The Journeys and Introductions of George Forrest VMH. Oxford University Press, Oxford, for the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Forrest, G. (1908). Primulaceae from Western Yunnan and Eastern Tibet. In: Notes 19, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (1996). Flora of China 15: 1-387. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis).

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet http://www.kew.org/herbcat [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0