This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The Cowslip ranges farther east than the Primrose in the N. Temperate Zone, where it is found in Europe, Siberia, W. Asia, N. Africa, but, like it, is unknown so far in early deposits.
In Great Britain it is found in the Peninsula provinces, in the Channel, Thames, Anglia, and Severn provinces, in S. Wales it does not occur in Radnor or Cardigan, in N. Wales not in Montgomery or Merioneth, but throughout the Trent and Mersey provinces, except Mid Lancashire, and in the Humber, Tyne, Lakes provinces generally. In the E. Lowlands it is general except in Wigtown, and in the W. Lowlands except in Peebles and Selkirk, in the S. Highlands except in Stirling, S. Perth, Elgin, Easterness, and in the W. Highlands in Westerness, Main Argyle, Dumbarton, and in W. Sutherland, and Caithness. In Northumberland it grows at 1600 ft.
There is no more common plant in most lowland counties of Great Britain in early spring than the Cowslip, which clots the meadows, fields, and upland pastures with its yellow flowers as uniformly as the Lady's Smock does the moister meadows and marshes. It also grows under hedgerows in the shade, in copses, and woodlands, when it is taller and finer in flower and foliage.
The general habit of the Cowslip is like that of the Primrose, but the scape bears more than one flower. It is a typical rosette plant.
The radical leaves are heart-shaped to egg-shaped, narrowed at the base, running down the stalk, wrinkled, with rounded teeth, shorter than those of the Primrose, hairy beneath.
The flowers are in umbels, funnel-shaped, drooping, yellow, with orange dots. The calyx is bell-shaped with short egg-shaped teeth, loosely enclosing the corolla. The capsule is oval, and half as long as the calyx.
The scapes are 6-8 in. tall. The flowers may be sought in May and June. The Cowslip is perennial and easily propagated by division.
The Cowslip has flowers very similar to those of the Primrose or Oxlip, but the limb of the corolla is not flat but cup-shaped, and the throat is open, with obscure not thickened folds.
It has orange honey-guides, and the flowers are very strongly scented. The Cowslip usually grows in the open, while the Primrose grows in the shade. It is visited by humble bees and Anthophora pi/ipes.
Photo. B. Hanley - Cowslip (Primula veris, L.)
The capsule is 5-valved and opens out at the top, and the seeds are shaken out by the wind.
The Cowslip is a truly clay-loving plant, growing freely on a clay soil, and it is common on Liassic clay and Boulder clay.
Phyllosticta primulaecola attacks it. A moth, Eupaecilia ruficiliana, feeds on it.
The second Latin name means of spring, in reference to the time of flowering. The different names by which it is known are: Arte-tyke, Horse Buckles, Cooslip, Coostropple, Couslop, Cow Paigle,