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Evening Primrose
Oenothera biennis

Flower Petal # 4
Main Color    
Color 2    
Type Categories Useful Parts


Onagraceae Family

Oenothera Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Evening star, Common evening primrose, Weedy evening-primrose, German rampion, hog weed, King's cure-all, fever-plant, night candle, night willow herb, scabish, sun crop, scurvish, tree primrose, and wild beet.


Found from Newfoundland west to Alberta, southeast to Florida, and southwest to Texas, and widely naturalized elsewhere in temperate and subtropical regions

Physical Description
This is an indigenous, biennial plant, with an erect, rough, hirsute, and branching stem, from 2 to 5 feet high. The leaves are ovate lanceolate, alternate, acute, obscurely toothed, roughly pubescent, 3 to 6 inches long, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches broad, those on the stem sessile, the radicles tapering into a petiole. The flowers are numerous, pale-yellow, sessile, odorous, in a terminal, somewhat leafy spike; they are nocturnal, open but once by night, and continue only a single day. The calyx tube is 2 or 3 times longer than the ovary, deciduous, 4-lobed, and reflexed. Petals 4, equal, obcordate, or obovate, inserted into the top of the tube. Stamens 8, a little shorter than the petals. Anthers mostly linear. Capsule oblong, somewhat tapering above, 3-celled, and 4-valved. Seeds numerous, naked, and in 2 rows in each cell (G.óW.).

General Information

Mwdicinal Uses: Used by the Navajo: Compound infusion of plants used as a wash for sore skin
Used by Cherokee: Leaves boiled, fried, and often eaten with greens
The Lakota Indians used the seeds as an aromatic. Although this plant has a reputation for being sedating, the Iroquois combined it with other herbs to counteract laziness. Roots were chewed and then the paste rubbed on the arms and legs of athletes to give them great strength. The Cherokee made a tea of this plant to drink for obesity, and they cooked the leaves for greens and the roots as potatoes. The Ojibwa soaked the whole plant and applied it to bruises.

Food Uses: In Europe the roots are eaten like olives after dinner
Root - cooked. The roots of the Evening Primrose are eaten in some countries in the spring, and the French often use it for garnishing salads. Boiled and eaten like salsify. Fleshy, sweet and succulent. Wholesome and nutritious. A peppery taste. The taste somewhat resembles salsify or parsnips.
Young shoots - raw or cooked. Mucilaginous, with a peppery flavor, they are best used sparingly. Another source suggests that the shoots should not be eaten.
The flowers represent fickleness in the Victorian language of flowers, perhaps because as the season progresses, the flowers, which normally open only at dusk, will open in the morning but not have a scent until the evening.
Flowers - sweet. Used in salads or as a garnish. Young seedpods - cooked. Steamed. The seed contains 28% of a drying oil. It is edible and a very good source of gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is not found in many plant sources and has numerous vital functions in the body. The seed, however, is very small and difficult to harvest, it has to be done by hand. Overall yields are low, making the oil very expensive to produce.

Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose
Side view of Flowers

Evening Primrose

Comment: Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis

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