The auricula has a long and fascinating history starting from a cross between 2 European alpine primulas. There are 2 schools of thought as to how auriculas reached England.
One is that they were introduced by Flemish weavers fleeing religious persecution in the 1570s. However, at that time, these plants were still novelties and were grown only by the rich.
The 2nd school of thought says that it is more probable they arrived, as did most other flowers, by interchange between leading Continental and English plantsmen. Whichever it was, they became very popular and were popular with artists.
The auricula was one of the great florist’s flowers, some of the others being anemone, ranunculi, tulips and carnations. The term ˜florist” was originally applied in the 1600s to a person who grew plants for the sake of their decorative flowers rather than for any useful property the plant might have. The modern meaning of florist only came into being towards the end of the 19th century.