Birdseye primula

Primula mistassinica

Common Name: Birdseye primula

  • The purple flowers have a yellow center, giving the plant its common name.
  • The stems grow up to 10 inches tall and arise directly from the ground.
  • Flowers in May and June.

Native or Invasive: Native perennial

Characteristics: Regularly shaped flower with five petals, ranging from light violet to brighter pink. This is the only native primrose in the area, though other species have been cultivated. The plants are very noticeable when blooming, offering colorful splashes of lavender or pink along the shore.

No other primroses are likely to be growing in beach habitats in early spring. It may be confused with violets. However, violets are more vibrant in color, have irregularly shaped flowers and dark, heart-shaped leaves.

The birdseye primrose is found throughout the northern shores of the Great Lakes region, from the Yukon to Labrador in Canada.

Habitat: Moist sandy or rocky beaches, swales in alkaline meadows and on sandstone rocks.

Fun Fact: Because they bloom early in the season, the Birdseye primula acts as a symbol that spring has arrived.

Ethnobotanical Uses: None listed.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.