Primula parryi

Excerpt from Volume 2, Issue 2 (October 1944) - p 19-20 ANorth American Primulas@ written by Lieutenant-Commander C. R. Worth, U.S.N.R., Annapolis

Primula parryi

The stalwart of the American species, P. Parryi, is found throughout the central Rockies. I believe it has been found in northern New Mexico, and I have seen it on the Frisco Peaks, near Flagstaff, Arizona, where it appears in the most robust of its many incarnations. Its northern limit seems to be in the Tetons, and climbers along the Cascade Trail there, have it for company much of the way, until above the timberline it flows all over the more level spots. An old record of its collection in southern Montana seems unsubstantiated by later explorations. It makes a thick crown from which rise almost upright, but curving over at the tips, long leaves of a rather dark green, and bears on stems that vary from barely a foot to well over two, great heads of inch-wide flowers of a most intense and vivid crimson, and always seems to flower in great profusion regardless of good or bad season. Sometimes, particularly on the Frisco Peaks, it has a regrettable odor of skunk. In its chosen spots it seems completely indifferent to soil or surroundings, though it usually appears at or just below timberline and does not wander into the true alpine zone, at least in its more southerly stations. But I have found it along woodland streams, in three inches of melted snow above timberline (in the Tetons), in volcanic ash, on granite, on red shale, and even clinging to limestone cliffs. Such a plant one would at once assume to be adaptable to gardens, but that is not its record. Mr. C. T. Musgrave wrote me that one collection of seed had germinated and grown so marvellously that he had given a number of plants to the Royal Horticultural Society, where its freedom of growth was apparently greatly admired. This is in the first season: next season he reported that it was not doing so well, and then silence. I have one plant at home (the only survivor) that still exists in a sand bed after some years, and annually puts out leaves about an inch long. Mrs. G .R. Marriage succeeds with it in her mile-high garden at Colorado Springs, but in an unguarded moment she admitted to me that it makes very poor growth even at such an altitude. This flamboyant giant seems to pine for its heights, and will never become a familiar plant in gardens, I fear.

 

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