Evening Primrose

High summer is the last half of that warmest of seasons, stretching into autumn.  This is a time when all sorts of colorful wildflowers are blooming, and it’s worth taking a look at them.

Last year, we took a look at Ironweed, that spectacular tall and purple plant.  Today’s wildflower is the next in this series…

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You may have seen these light yellow blooms along roadsides and in waste areas and sunny fields this month.  This is the poetically-named Evening Primrose.

Evening Primrose is part of a family of herbaceous plants native to the Americas (always nice to see common native plants out there).  It has spread to many parts of the world in this age of global travel.

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This plant can grow up to 7 feet tall.  It grows out from a leafy central stem, and sometimes spreads out like a candelabra.  The leaves are lance-shaped.

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The flowers tend to open later in the day and stay open into the early morning- hence one of its alternate names is Evening Star.  Each flower only blooms once a day- there are plenty standing by to replace the old ones.

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If you look close at the flower, the sepals form a cross-like shape.  This was noted with approval by Christians in the old days.  Incidentally, commercial versions of this plant appear in gardens.

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After the plant has quit blooming, the little seed pods open to release small brown seeds, which are typically dispersed on the wind.  You can see the distinctive shape of the stalk all winter long if you know where to look.

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These plants are quite hardy.  Its seeds have been known to lie in the soil for up to 70 years and then germinate when conditions were right for growth.

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Evening Primrose has been used in the past as a food source, and it has quite a history in regards to medicinal uses.  One should be careful in using it, but Native Americans once used it for various skin ailments and wounds.

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If you sniff the flowers closely, you might catch a whiff of its light lemony scent.  Pleasant wildflowers indeed, especially one that grows in weedy areas!