World Early signs of spring

Early signs of spring

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eIt’s a curse, I’m almost sure of it. The Christmas trees were still there, no one wanted mistletoe branches anymore, but Christmas roses and lucky clovers weren’t expensive to buy, but everyone bought them primroses. The longing for color in the terribly dreary all-gray is growing, and the commercial hybrids of the upholstery primroses are really colorful. It is January, Lenz is still far away. However, that hardly prevents anyone from bringing spring into the house, which is accelerating in the greenhouse. So far there is no question of flower shame, the plastic pots are so small, nevertheless: very, very many, because Primula vulgaris triumphs as inexpensive mass-produced goods, while the snowdrops outside in the garden have to wait for the right moment.

Sonja Kastilan

Responsible for the “Science” section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Since New Year’s Eve, a “Baroness Rothschild” has been blooming on my windowsill, as I only call her. The name seems appropriate to the initially burgundy primrose decadence, whose velvet robe is now gradually fading to purple. A gift like the grape hyacinth next to it, which captivates me with its blue, although I would rather look at snow and ice flowers than the early signs of spring. Even if neither the cityscape nor the plants in the garden are a reminder: in theory there is winter. Its cold kick is important, it needs a number of plants from our latitudes for a certain time so that they sprout in spring, do not bloom prematurely and risk frost damage. Such an adaptation is molecular-biologically complex – genes, sensors, enzymes and epigenetic switches are involved. When botanists talk about vernalization knowingly, it can be understood as a magic that deserves its own column. In spring, not now, despite the lack of snow.

Primroses in the service of health

Now, in mid-January, you can rather marvel at delicate leafy green on golden branches. What has survived the holidays in the deserted hallways, simply forgotten there or left behind as a decoration suddenly becomes apparent. Life awakens under the mica. The only question is how long since someone is taking care of it again. Could. Change the water. Would. So long it remains a miracle – or tough resistance of the birch, the branches of which are apparently concerned. Upholstered primroses have not yet moved in, but soon everything will be colorful. And colleagues probably use Radix Primulae anyway: The roots of Primula veris, the real cowslip or apothecary primrose, and Primula elatior contain, among other things, triterpene saponins, which in cough medicine serve as herbal expectorants, expectorants. That is why primrose roots – and flowers – are found dried in medicinal tea, as an extract or tincture in juices, drops, pastilles.

Primroses are neither suitable for the living room nor for the snow: the standard hybrids of the upholstered primroses do not tolerate frost very well.


The chemist Leopold Gmelin coined the term saponin in 1819, before there was talk of plants and their soap substances, the substances that foam in aqueous solution: long known, still widely used, and as so often their dose makes the poison. Senegin, isolated from the North American polygala senega, came into fashion as an active ingredient in the 19th century, for example against syphilis. When the supply stalled, the pharmacists looked for home replacements, increasingly resorted to the primrose, sometimes added violets: A Primulatum fluidum can not work miracles, and magic can only be found in fairy tales. But the glory of primrose flowers is reminiscent of a winter magic: Expecto primulam! Primula! Colorful, pretty ubiquitous.

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