What’s with the farina?

Primula gemmifera var. amoena

Ever wondered about the farina that many Primula species develop on the leaves, stems, buds, flowers?

I haven’t until I started to observe the tiny seedlings of P. gemmifera var. amoena (syn. Primula zambalensis) starting to get covered with the white ‘stuff’.  Being the only Primula I grew this year from seeds, maybe I looked more often at it.

Of course, others have preoccupied themselves with the subject a long ago. It seems that about half of the Primula species bear minute glandular hairs (see in the image the small dots on the leaves) which secrete the white (or yellow) powder called ‘farina’. It is actually a wax-like material mixed with flavonoids, in most cases.

Primula gemmifera var. amoena seedlings showing glandular hairs starting to secrete the farina

It has taxonomic significance and it was used to define sections in the genus Primula, but otherwise it is considered of no use to the plants being in fact just a ‘waste’ product eliminated from the plant cells through the secretory hairs.

Looking at it from the gardener’s perspective it is of great use though – think about how much it enhances the beauty of all farinose Primula species! Next year I hope to show the flowers of this Primula which grows on stony moist  slopes of NW Yunnan and SW Sichuan; they are said to be lilac- blue and deliciously scented!

Primula gemmifera var. amoena seedlings

2 replies
    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      We might, on Sunday. Meanwhile we are drenched, soaked, and any other words that may fit the description.
      The little Primula is among the few seedlings I still have inside.

Comments are closed.