Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - July 30, 2012

From: Burnet, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Pollinators, Butterfly Gardens, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Butterflies attracted by Pink Evening Primrose from Burnet TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I see information on Pink Evening Primrose that says it attracts 'many butterflies' Please tell me which butterflies and name them? I've looked everywhere and am just exhausted and frustrated with so much vague information. But you're my favorite, Mr. Smarty Plants, I should have come to you first!

ANSWER:

On searching for butterflies that come to specific plants, you must think of them as pollinators. While the face of the primrose is fairly flat and looks inviting to butterflies, the butterflies that are around may have mouths adapted to totally different flowers. We suggest you begin by reading our How-To Article on Butterfly Gardening.

To be honest, I am afraid that the material you are reading says "many butterflies,"  because they don't know either. We found an article from Illinois Wildflowers on Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose) that has some pollination information, including:

"Faunal Associations: Small bees collect pollen from the flowers, but they are unlikely to pollinate them. The size and length of the stamens and style suggest that hummingbirds, large butterflies or day-flying Sphinx moths are more likely to pollinate the flowers while seeking nectar, although this is somewhat speculative. Some insects feed destructively on the foliage and other parts of Showy Evening Primrose and other Oenethera spp."

Another (slightly tedious) scientific paper from the American Journal of Botany suggested the night-flying hawk or sphinx moth might be the primary pollinator of the Evening Primrose, which sometimes blooms only one day while other times it blooms two days, and pollination would occur at night, which explains why you're not seeing them crowded around the flowers during the day.

From the US Forestry Service article Celebrating Wildflowers, here is an article on the Hawk or Sphinx Moth.

Even after your nice comment (thank you) we feel we have let you down, but at least you know that we couldn't find out either. However, if it is any comfort, many of the articles on the flower itself branded them as very invasive. They make a lovely roadside flower, possibly crowding out invasive non-natives, but you might want to read the 18 negative comments from the Dave's Garden Forum website.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

More Wildflowers Questions

Seeds native to New Jersey from Glendora NJ
April 16, 2012 - My sister is getting married and would like to send out native wildflower seeds to the guests in her save the dates. We want these seeds to be NJ native seeds, but we are actually having some trouble ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping for a wedding in Memphis MO
October 13, 2009 - I am pretty new at this landscaping flower thing, but I love it. We just moved out to the country in NE Missouri from Colorado (Huge difference, but love it). We have decided to have our wedding at o...
view the full question and answer

Native wildflower garden for Pennsylvania
May 21, 2008 - Hello, I am interested in making a garden, and I would like to use only or mostly native wildflowers in it. Do you have any good suggestions for wildflowers that I can transplant from places where the...
view the full question and answer

Shearing Pink Skullcaps
September 21, 2014 - My pink skullcap plants keep dying. The ones that are still alive are about 3 years old, but have large sections of dry twigs. Do I shear them and hope they come back or are they gone? I live in Helot...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet blooming in late August
August 27, 2008 - We have a bluebonnet plant in our front yard that has been blooming since July. We did not plant it, it just came up naturally. Is it rare to have a plant still blooming this time of year?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.