Oxlips and False Oxlips

In a previous post about a visit to Common Hill Nature Reserve in April, we mis-identified this plant...

False Oxlips

...as oxlip when it should have been identified as false oxlip. In Mary's defence, she did not realise there was such a thing as a false oxlip, and oxlips themselves turn out to be quite rare in England. The warden at Common Hill checked earlier records and noted false oxlip had been recorded at Common Hill - but not oxlip. It did not take long to confirm these were false oxlips using several wildflower reference books.

The oxlip, or true oxlip (Primula elatior) is restricted to certain parts of East Anglia, specifically parts of Cambridgeshire, Essex and Suffolk - it is the county flower of Suffolk.

The False Oxlip (Primula veris x vulgaris) is a hybrid of the Cowslip (Primula veris) and Primrose (Primula vulgaris). So, if you're in East Anglia then you are probably looking at Oxlip unless there are cowslips and primroses also present. In all other places, assume False Oxlip. Just to confuse matters, hybrid crosses of Oxlip and Primrose also occur! But it is now getting far too complicated.


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