Primula elatior

Common Name: oxlip 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Primulaceae
Native Range: Europe, southwestern Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies


Best grown in evenly moist, rich, well-draining, humusy loams in part shade. Tolerant of a wide variety of soil types as long as they are well-draining. Can be grown in full sun if the soil is not allowed to dry. Hardy in Will readily self-seed. Hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Primula elatior, commonly called oxlip, is a herbaceous or semi-evergreen perennial native to woodland margins, slopes, and meadows in southern and central Europe. Mature rosettes will reach around 6" tall and 12" wide. The foliage is oblong to elliptic in shape, has finely toothed margins, winged petioles (leaf stalks), and will reach 8" long and 2.75" wide. Flowering scapes reaching up to 1' tall emerge from the center of the rosettes in spring bearing an umbel of of 5-10 flowers. The bell-shaped blooms are pale yellow with a darker yellow center eye and can reach 0.5" long and 0.75" wide. The flowers are attractive to butterflies and other insect pollinators.

The genus name Primula means "little earliest one" and is the feminine diminutive of the Latin primus.

The specific epithet elatior means "taller", possibly in reference to the height of this species compared to other Primula species.

The common name oxlip is a derivative of cowslip, the common name for Primula veris, and may refer to the boggy cattle pastures where these plants can be found.


Watch for aphids, slugs, and spider mites. Susceptible to botrytis and leaf spot diseases.


Mixed border fronts, cottage gardens, alpine gardens, meadows.