Primula veris from which Cowslip Flowers are obtained is a member of the primrose family. The name Cowslip is derived from the word “cowpat” (Old English “cuslyppe”) from where Cowslips would spring up when they were common in the wild. It is also variously known as Paigle, Key Flower, Fairy Cups and Mayflower
According to legend, St Peter dropped the keys to Heaven and where they landed Cowslips grew (the flowers were thought to resemble a set of keys).
Reported Attributes of Cowslip Flowers:-
They have been used since ancient times to make wine, jam, tea and ointment. Indeed, Cowslip wine and tea, made from the “peeps” (yellow petal rings) was thought to be a good sedative). The whole herb/roots have also been used in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis.
Cowslip tea has been used for hundreds of years to treat spasms, cramps, rheumatic pain and paralysis , indeed, it used to be called Palsywort for this very reason.
Leaves can also be used for healing wounds. Both the flowers and leaves often used to be eaten – young Cowslip leaves were eaten in salads or mixed with other herbs to stuff meat.
Flowers can be eaten to strengthen memory and cognition. In the 18th century, powdered roots boiled in ale were used for treating giddiness and nervous ailments.
Cowslips used to be popular in Elizabethan knot gardens.
Folklore and Cowslip Flowers:-
Cowslips are believed to be the favourite flower of nightingales, who were said to only frequent places where Cowslips grew. Frightened fairies hide in the flowers. Sprinkle your threshold with Cowslip flowers when you want to be left alone. Carry Cowslip flowers for good luck. If a woman washes her face in milk which has been infused with Cowslips, then her beloved will be drawn closer to her. The plant has the ability to split rocks containing treasure and can help you find hidden fairy gold. The smell of Cowslips was believed to calm nerves and alleviate amnesia. Cowslips planted upside down on Good Friday turn into Primroses! If fed on bull’s blood they turn red – just some of the folklore and legend surrounding Cowslips!
In Norse mythology the plant was dedicated to Odin’s wife, Freya, the goddess who held the keys to happiness and sexual love.