Cowslip (Primula veris)

Collins, 184; Readers Digest, 223

This short hairy perennial is very much a favourite plant in our chalk downland.  The flowers are yellow with orange spots in the centre and the plant frequents open grassland and scrub.  According to legend, St. Peter dropped the keys to heaven when he learnt that a duplicate set had been made.  The keys descended from heaven and landed in Northern Europe and the first Cowslip sprang from the spot.  The drooping yellow flowers are thought to resemble the Saint’s ‘bunch of keys’ which is another name for the Cowslip in Somerset.

The flowers are rich in nectar for moths, bees and other insects.