Evening primroses, such a romantic name, suggesting Victorian novels and fragrant pathways. Common evening primrose, Oenothera biennis is no shrinking violet, oh no. It is not even a primrose at all. At a strapping six feet tall, this plant has a strong presence wherever it decides to show up.
First noticed blooming at offspring Semi’s semi-wild garden, standing head and shoulders above all of the other
weeds wildflowers in August several years ago, seeds were snatched, pocketed and taken home for some research before sowing. It was then we found the name of the tall vertical accent with the pale yellow blooms, Oenothera biennis and learned it was a native found in dry, well drained open places in the Eastern US and Southern Canada, common in Tennessee. It is said to be hardy in USDA Zones 5-8.
Give this plant plenty of room for the attractive branching to be shown in the spotlight along with the height. It will seed about, with a rosette appearing the first year and the flower spike shooting for the stars the second, as most biennials do.
Several common names allude to the medicinal qualities of Oenothera biennis, such as King’s cure-all, fever plant and cure-all. Headaches and skin disorders, among many other ailments are said to be relieved with compounds contained in this plant. (As always, we do not recommend self medication). The roots, seeds, oil and leaves are said to be edible and nutritious. The above photo shows the Oenothera biennis peeking out from behind the curtain of blooming bronze fennel,Foeniculum vulgare.
Oenothera biennis flowers are favored by pollinators, birds and other wildlife. While out pointing and shooting with the usual abandon with the camera set on auto, we noticed this ruby throated hummingbird darting around the red salvias. We were far away, but used the zoom to its max to follow the hummer as it dined. When it sipped on the evening primrose, my heart did a somersault as the shutter was clicked. The little bird can be seen from behind, just below the Fairegarden watermark. It is a poor shot, overexposed and cropped beyond what is proper, but still…
Visit my dear friend Gail of Clay and Limestone to see more wildflowers that are featured monthy when the fourth Wednesday rolls around.