Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Cowslip (Primula veris): Sweet spring brew

On our first week of field work we went out with Charlotte, a PhD student here at Bristol University to plant Cowslip. While with her we learnt many a thing about these pretty but often overlooked spring flowers.
So here is a little post about all the marvellous things cowslip (and Primrose, Primula vulgaris, as they contain similar properties) can offer you!
In the past they were often used in medicine, for soothing the nerves, easing insomnia and improving headaches. Infusions of cowslip are said to be both anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic as the flowers and leaves contain saponins and flavonoids, making them useful for muscular pains and rheumatism.  An infusion of the flowers can be used in the bath for soothing these conditions.
Infusions can also be taken for headaches and migraines, or just to brighten the complexion and reduce wrinkles.  In fact, cowslip has been associated with youth in the Victorian language of flowers.
Even the fine gourmet will be charmed by cowslip whose flowers and leaves can also be used in salads and to stuff meats (though they are potentially allergenic so always do an allergy test first by rubbing a little of the juice from a leaf on the inside of the lips and seeing how you react).
Cowslips used to be very common but are much rarer now due to habitat loss, and in Britain and other countries cowslips are protected in the wild so should not be gathered. Therefore it’s important to plant them if you wish to use them for food or remedies.

Cowslip Tisane
2 tsps cowslip petals and water
Pour boiling water over the petals and leave to steep for 10-15 mins.

Decoction of cowslip root
1 tsp of chopped root and water
Put the root in the water and bring to boil, simmer for 5 mins.
Enjoy these sweet spring soothers.

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