Primula mistassinica (Mistassini Primrose)
|Also known as:||Bird's-eye Primrose, Dwarf Canadian Primrose|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; rock outcrops, cliffs, gravelly shores|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||2 to 6 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 to 5 tubular flowers at the top of a naked stem, each is 1/3 to ¾ inch across and has 5 notched pink to lavender lobes that fade to white at the base, with a yellow ring around the mouth of the tube. 5 stamens are hidden inside the tube.
Leaves and stem:
A tightly packed rosette of leaves surrounds the flowering stem. Leaves are elliptic to spatula-shaped, ½ to 1¼ inches long, to ½ inch wide, light green, typically with slightly wavy and irregularly toothed edges, the undersides covered with a white or yellowish powder (farina). The flowering stem is brown and wiry and has a textured look to it.
Fruit is a cylindrical capsule about as long or a little longer than the calyx.
Mistassini Primrose is named for the Canadian lake where it was first discovered; Minnesota is on the southern edge of its range. A delightful flower to run down on craggy wave splashed shores of Lake Superior - but the season is very fleeting. Uncommon in Minnesota, it lives among the rocks with rare species such as the carnivorous butterwort, Pinguicula vulgaris. Also keep in mind when you are out there as such, misplaced steps can damage any fragile member of this marginal community of plants. Please note the image below of Primula farinosa, sold to me by a nursery as P. mistassinica. While very showy it is of European origin and I would plant not another in my Garden. It is gaudy in comparison to our delicate native.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Mistassini Primrose plants
- more Mistassini Primrose plants
- a colony of Mistassini Primrose
- side view of the flowers
- imposter Primula farinosa plants
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Banning State Park, Pine County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken on the northshore of Lake Gichigami in Lake county.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?