Sunday, September 9, 2012

Evening primrose

We came across this patch of evening primroses when we were walking through the sand dunes at Cleethorpes local nature reserve at the weekend. There are about twenty very confusing evening primrose species and interspecific hybrids but I suspect this one is probably Oenothera glazioviana (formerly known as Oe.erythrosepala), which comes from North America. 

There are no native species of evening primrose in Britain but this is one very attractive alien species that no one seems to object to when it escapes into the wild. It seems to thrive in waste places, especially in poor, arid soils. Recently I've seen it flowering well in a supermarket car park and on the edge of a pavement in a city centre. The seeds are very small and I imagine they are easily distributed on birds' feet, and the pale yellow flowers, which seem almost luminous at dusk, attract moths which must very effective pollinators; Sir Edward Salisbury, former director of Kew Gardens and noted authority on weeds and alien plants, once calculated that these plants commongly produce around 33,000 seeds each.

One species of evening primrose, Oenothera biennis, is sometimes cultivated as a crop, on account of its herbal medicinal value. The oil extracted from the seeds contains high levels of linoleic acid, which has a variety of medicinal uses.


  1. It is very prolific in my garden this year, I don't recall sowing it though.

  2. It grows in my garden too toffeeapple. Hope you had a good holiday.