Primula filipes G.Watt, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 20: 5 (1882) (syn: Androsace cordifolia Wall.; Auganthus forbesii (Franch.) Soják; Primula androsacea Pax; Primula barbeyana Petitm.; Primula forbesii Franch.; Primula multicaulis Petitm.; Primula wallichiana Kuntze; Primula willmottiae Petitm.) as per POWO;
Primula forbesii Franch., Bull. Soc. Bot. France 33(1): 64–65 1886. (Syn: Primula androsacea Pax; Primula barbeyana Petitm.; Primula forbesii subsp. androsacea (Pax) W.W. Sm. & Forrest; Primula multicaulis Petitm.; Primula willmottiae Petitm.) as per The Plant List;
Himalaya to China (SW. Sichuan, NE. & Central Yunnan): Assam, China South-Central, East Himalaya, Myanmar, Nepal as per POWO;
Common name: Baby Primrose
The plant that has been introduced from China to the Kathmandu region is best called P. forbesii. It seems likely (but not proven) that P. malacoides represents ‘improved’ cultivated versions (or ‘good’ selected forms) of the wild P. forbesii which is very similar but less robust and showy.
Both species are native to China, so this is a garden plant. These species have numerous variations but the key given by Smith and Fletcher uses the length of the petioles (equalling or exceeding the blade in P. malacoides and short in P. forbesii) to tell them apart.

Location: Godawari, Nepal
Altitude: 5000 ft.
Date: 10 January 2017

Very good set of images.  I shall comment further in due course.

Primula malacoides

Thank you … for the ID but not listef in Nepal so far!

I have NOT looked closely at the photos posted but have reservations about the identification of P.malacoides unless it was being cultivated at Godawari.  It is not a native of Nepal and has not previously been recorded as naturalised.
In the UK it is still (according to Professor Richards) a popular plant for heated glasshouse and conservatory culture.  It has been seen (by Richards) to be grown as a municipal bedding plant in Sydney, Auckland, Christchurch & Singapore.
In the wild it is distributed from just outside Myanamar on the Yunnan border near the Salween, throughout Yunnnan to western Kweichow.  A weed of cultivated fields.
Richards described it as closely-related to another weed species, Primula forbesii.
Whereas, P.forbesii had been recorded around temples near Kathmandu (and some other parts of Nepal) – confirmed by Richards. Though I remain curious as to how it got there as this species, though pretty enough, is hardly a normal garden plant.
In ‘Primula’ (2003) Richards has a key which separates P.forbesii from P.malacoides (and some other species) on the basis of the former species having the lowest whorl of flowers overtopping the leaves. In the latter, the stem below lowest whorl of flowers not exceeding the leaves.
Perhaps, again, the best person to confirm the identity is Professor Richards, so why not forward him the images, as was done with two other Primulas.

Found plenty of this plant along the walls of water canal just outside the enclosure of protected garden inside the Godawari Botanical Garden.
I guess they might have introduced in the garden.

OK. This adds up. Though would still be worth approaching Professor Richards for his opinion as to identification – plants is cultivation often get mixed-up by various means and are not always a single pure species.
ANY plant growing anywhere near habitation in Nepal could easily be a cultivated plant – even if ‘naturalised’ to an extent, which the Primula you photographed appears to have be.
Primula forbesii does appear to have been naturalised for decades in Nepal as have numerous other PROMINENT plants.
The Supplement to Flowers of the Himalaya has 2 photos of Euphorbia pulcherrima (known as ‘Poinsetta’) which is a native of Central America, commonly cultivated in the tropics which is a common hedge plant in Nepal to 2000m.  Its large vermillion-coloured bracts are prominent from a distance.  This, presumably was spread around the world centuries ago.
Agave spp. also from the Americas are commonly cultivated as hedge-plants in the Himalaya.
Yucca aloifolia, a native of N & C. America is cultivated and planted by roadsides in Chamba and Kulu Valley in H.P. – I have seen Indian tourists stopping their cars to pluck the long branched clusters of cream or white flowers.
Whilst Opuntia monacantha ‘Prickly Pear’ is commonly planted as a hedge plant and has naturalized in cultivated areas and on waste ground to 1800m.  There is a photo in ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’.  There are other Opuntias cultivated. 

This plant is P. forbesii, a winter-flowering annual from China which is extensively naturalised around Kathmandu.

I remain curious as to how Primula forbesii, a native of China, reached and became naturalised around temples in Nepal?

In the UK we have many naturalised plants both intentionally introduced for their ornamental merit and the escaped (as was the case for Impatiens glandulifera) whilst others arrived accidentaly.
I have seen quite a number of British “cottage garden” type plants growing in gardens in the hills of India which presumably were introduced by the British (most are not British native species).  Some of these are found in Nepal but Primula forbesii whilst pretty enough and of interest to Primula enthusiasts, surely would be of minimal to zero interest to most garden-lovers in Nepal.
Does the explanation lie in their proximity to temples?
I do not think too many plants have been introduced from China into Nepal for their ornamental merit.
Could the seed of P.forbesii have arrived amongst a product from SW China?
Richards in his PRIMULA tome mentions Forrest’s observations about P.malacoides (closely related to P.forbesii) which was then a weed of cultivated fields around 2000m, who considered it had become much more widespread owing to the cultivation of beans, as bundles of these were carried into villages with fruiting sprays of the primula attached.
Primulas are utilised in Tibetan Medicine but I was not aware anything like P.forbesii is utilised nor that they are cultivated in temple gardens.

Thank you all and … for finalizing the ID Primula forbesii.

ID validation pending !

… is an expert on this. Pl. Take his views. 


Primula forbesii AT MAR 2017/10 : 3 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (4)

Primula forbesii
Family: Primulaceae
Synonyms: Primula androsacea, Primula multicaulis
Baby Primrose
This plant has naturalized in Shimla area. It can be seen growing wild on stone walls and also cultivated. I’ll check my folders for its wild colonies. Also noted white colour growing in a hotel in Shimla.


SK1178 06 JUNE 2018 : 9 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (8)- around 800 kb each.
Location : Sukhiapokahari, Darjeeling, India
Date : 12 May 2018
Elevation :  6900 ft.
Habit : Wild
Primula again !
Primula forbesii  ??

Yes appears close as per images at Primula forbesii

Primula malacoides

Primula malacoides is now known to be found in Darjeeling region.

Thanks, … Both species are really close. I think more ornamental and showy plant is considered as malacoides.


Primula forbesii Franch. Bull. Soc. Bot. France 33(1): 64–65 1886.
Primula androsacea Pax
Primula barbeyana Petitm.
Primula forbesii subsp. androsacea (Pax) W.W. Sm. & Forrest
Primula multicaulis Petitm.
Primula willmottiae Petitm.
Family: Primulaceae

A Primula with double whorled inflorescence. Beautiful.

This does seem to be correct – though not a native/ wild plant in Sikkim or by temples in Nepal where it is also found, presumably escaped from cultivation?  Native of Yunnan, south Sichuan, the Shan States, Myanamar. Thought seems a somewhat surprising plant to be grown in Nepal or finding its way to around a temple in Sikkim. Not mentioned in ‘Flora of Bhutan’ or ‘Enumeration of Flowering Plants of Nepal’ but these works concentrated upon wild plants.  Nor is it in the ‘Annotated Checklist…’.

That’s interesting. Yes indeed this plant was right on the path of Rumtek Monastry less than 50 m from the enterance and then scattered along the path ahead…

Primula forbesii (accepted name) ??? : 7 posts by 4 authors. Attachments (1)
Location: Dhulikhel, Nepal
Altitude: 5000 ft.
Date: 26 March, 2013

Looks like so.
See images in Primula world.
Interesting as not known in Nepal as per Nepal’s Checklist!
Need validation from expert too.
eFlora China also not show its distribution in Nepal.

It is not listed in Nepal !

I do have some knowledge of this Primula in Nepal even though it is NOT a native species or recorded from that country in various check-lists – which the photo seems to be of (though you have posted only a single image and not in close-up).   I cannot presently think what other species it could be – though I am not a specialist in the genus as a whole and there are many Primulas in China I am totally unfamiliar with!
Professor Richards confirmed the identification of a pressed specimen collected in Nepal (the person who came across it assumed it was a ‘wild’ plant) which had been passed on to me many years ago. In his book ‘Primula’ he tells us that as far as is known this species is a native of Yunnan, south Sichuan, the Shan States, Myanamar but also occurs around temples near Kathmandu (and I know it from one or two other places in Nepal).
It does beg the question as how it got to be growing around such temples in Nepal which Richards assumed was as an escape from cultivation but whist quite a pretty flower it would not necessarily catch the eye of most gardeners particularly those in Nepal?  Perhaps there is a connection with the temples themselves?  I know someone in the UK with a strong interest in plants utilised in Tibetan Medicine, so will ask her if she might have a possible explanation.
Maybe the plant arrived accidently with its seed being transported by visiting monks from a temple in China, rather being specifically grown as a garden plant and then escaping/partially naturalising?  One wonders as to what conditions exist along paths near to temples which allowed it to gain a foothold?  Often more ‘delicate’ species cannot compete with more vigorous/rampant ones are restricted to certain places.
It has long aroused my curiosity as to how non-native species arrive in new countries other than as escapes from cultivation.
I met ‘Botany’ Bill Sykes who participated in the 1952 Polunin, Sykes & Williams expedition to Nepal and the 1954 Stainton, Sykes & Williams expedition to Nepal (which were Oleg Polunin and Adam Stainton’s first visits to Nepal) when The UK Royal Horticultural Society’s representative on these expeditions. He later moved to New Zealand (where I was on a lecture tour some 25 years ago).  He worked primarily as a botanist and had a spell in China.  He observed that the Chinese do not differentiate much between native (wild) species and introduced ones (which in the UK we describe as ‘Aliens & Adventives’). To them a plant growing in China is a ‘Chinese’ plant.
I find the distinction useful in a better understanding of a plant – just as my detailed posts contained information about altitudinal range, habitat and so on, seem worthwhile to me, rather than JUST an identification (no matter how important this is and to get it as correct AS IS POSSIBLE and I regular comment that either I personally am uncertain or that nobody is really sure in some cases, even those with specialist knowledge, even though this is frustrating for those EXPECTING a quick & simple answer/name. 
… posted a couple of lovely images of this species taken close to a Gompa in Sikkim see: efi thread.
Primula forbesii is not recorded in ‘Flora of Bhutan’ Vol 2 Part 2 which covers Primulaceae in both Bhutan and Sikkim.

Thank you … for elaborated knowledge sharing !


SK272EC226-2016:ID : 9 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (2)

Location: Nagarkot , Nepal
Altitude:  6400 ft.
Date: 2 March 2014

Primula species?

Yes but need ID !

Cannot decide which Primula this is. Can anyone else help?

I couldn’t match it when I quickly tried. Perhaps the images can be forwarded to the two who have helped with Primulas in recent times for their thoughts.

Appears close to images at Primula filipes G.Watt (syn. P.forbesii)

You may be right …

Three sets of images:
There seems to be some confusion between P. filipes, P. forbesii and P. malacoides.
Your images are not P. filipes, which is an efarinose perennial with monomorphic (homostyle) flowers, very broad calyx lobes and is a wild species in Nepal.
Though it has been suggested that P. forbesii is a synonym of P. filipes, I disagree. The type sheets for P. forbesii are in Paris.
It is easy enough to compare them with P. filipes type sheet from Bhutan
or a better specimen collected earlier by Wallich in Nepal under the name Androsace cordifolia which is synonymous with P. filipes
Franchet, who described P. forbesii, commented that P. malacoides, and especially P. forbesii, resembled Androsace cordifolia (P. filipes) but that the calyx and corolla were very different.
Primula forbesii and P. malacoides are closely related species native to China. They are both heterostylous. Both species have been bred into selected strains and introduced as cultivated plants around the world. Both are biennial and produce copious amounts of seed so that they easily naturalize. I have seen these as potted plants at KATH, Godawari and from images in the wild in Taplejung and Ilam.
P. forbesii and P. malacoides are very similar. See type sheets in Paris for P. malacoides which you can compare with those above for P. forbesii.
A key difference between P. forbesii and P. malacoides are that the petioles are equal or longer than the length of the blade and the lowest tier of flowers is more or less in line to the leaves in P. malacoides, whereas in P. forbesii, the petioles are short and the lowest tier of flowers is well above the leaves. See the herbarium sheets.
In P. filipes, the petioles are long relative to the blade and there is only a single umbel of flowers barely held above the leaves.
It is probably incorrect to give these plants a species name as they are cultivated and introduced. If I had to make a choice, I would say P. forbesii for the relatively shorter petioles and the flowers held well above the leaves.


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