Butte Primrose, Gumbo Primrose


Showy, sweet-scented white (fading to pink) blossoms, up to 8 cm across open above this low-growing leafy rosette, found on dry hillsides of gumbo or clay soil. Blossoms occur through summer from June to August. The flowers, which are pollinated by moths, open at night, and each blossom lasts only one day.

The Blackfoot called this plant Ap-aks-ibokn forwide leaves” or Oks-pi-poku for “sticky root”, and used the crushed root, applied wet, to sores and swellings. (Johnston 48)


Growth habit and range: This plant is a low growing perennial which is found on dry hillsides and gumbo flats throughout the southernmost prairies. It grows to a height of up to several cm.

Description: This plant is stemless, with clustered, bright green, basal leaves which are lanceolate in shape and 7–20 cm long. The leaf margin may be toothed or wavy. The white, scented flowers appear from June to August. The blossoms measure 3–8 cm in diameter and are held on short stalks above the root crown. Each flower is comprised of 4 heart-shaped petals, each up to 4 cm in length, 4 sepals, one long stigma and 8 yellowish stamens. The flowers open in morning, close at night and fade to a pink colour. The fruit is an oblong capsule measuring about 3 cm in length. 


  • Johnston, Alex. 1987. Plants and the Blackfoot. Occasional Paper No. 15., Lethbridge Historical Society, AB.