En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 Pollinators Questions

Shrubs and trees to protect beehives in Godley TX
April 06, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Is there a (relatively) fast growing native small tree or large shrub (NOT cedar) that tolerates Johnson County clay, full sun, sometimes damp and sometimes dry soil with no...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pollinators & honey bees in PA
March 12, 2012 - In the database section entitled "Value to Beneficial Insects" on the page for "Tilia americana L" (also known as the Bee Tree, or Linden Tree, American Basswood); the tree is identified as being ...
view the full question and answer

Need plants beneficial or attractive to bees in Dripping Springs, TX
January 27, 2014 - Can you provide a specific list of plants beneficial or attractive to honey bees in the Texas Hill Country (we raise bees in Dripping Springs, TX.) Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Bees on non-native holly from Oakland TN
April 18, 2013 - I have bees all over my Nellie Stevens holly. Can I spray anything to alleviate this issue?
view the full question and answer

Early, middle and late blooming flowers for pollinators in East Texas
July 05, 2010 - On our farm in northeast Texas we are participating in a Conservation Program through the NRCS. We have to plant 4 acres for pollinators--early blooming, middle blooming, and late blooming. I need t...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center