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Siberian Primrose

Primula nutans

  • Family: Primrose Family – Primulaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock very small, tuberous.
  • Height: 5–10 cm (2–4 in.), in fruit up to 20 cm (8 in.). Stem a leafless, glabrous scape.
  • Flower: Corolla funnel-shaped, light purple–pink, with yellow throat, 10–20 mm (0.4–0.8 in.) broad, fused, with thin tube, 5-lobed, lobes with notched tips. Calyx campanulate (bell-shaped), clearly ridged. Stamens 5. A single carpel. Inflorescence a dense, 2–3-flowered umbel terminating scape.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette; stalk long and thin, winged. Blade ovate–roundly elliptic, usually with round base, with entire margins–unclearly toothed, juicy, glabrous.
  • Fruit: Thin, 5-valved, 10–16 mm (0.4–0.64 in.) long capsule, much longer than calyx
  • Habitat: Sandy and rocky seaside meadows.
  • Flowering time: June–July.
  • Endangerment: Vulnerable, protected in all of Finland.

Siberian primrose stands can only be found in Finland along the coast of the Bay of Bothnia. Its closest stands on the other side of Finland’s international borders are on the coast of the Arctic Ocean and the White Sea. This seemingly strange distribution is shared by dozens of other water and coastal plants. After the Ice Age a large part of Finland was under water, and the Bay of Bothnia and the White Sea linked up, or the isthmus between them was at least very narrow. Plants that had spread to the Bay of Bothnia were separated from their relatives as the Finnish land began to rise, and they embarked on their own journey – Siberian primrose that grows in Finland is classed on its own and is named var. jokelae (or ssp. finmarchica var. jokelae) after the doctor and botanist from Oulu, Paavo Jokela. In principle, as time passes, they could become sufficiently different from their Arctic and White Sea relatives to be classed as an independent species. Migrating birds can carry the seeds of one population to another, however, so this levels out differences and at least slows down the specification process.

Siberian primrose’s pretty violet flowers decorate underwater coastal meadows every now and again. The Baltic Sea has no real tide to speak of, but differences in air pressure and winds create short-lived and irregular variations in the height of the water. Strong, prolonged winds from the south in particular can flood the Bay of Bothnia coast. Like many other small waterside meadow plants, Siberian primrose has become rarer in recent decades. This is mainly due to the end of coastal grazing and the overgrowth that follows. At the same time the eutrophication of the water has helped many tall-growing coastal plants.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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