En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Butterflies attracted by Pink Evening Primrose from Burnet TX

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 Invasive Plants Questions

What is causing leaf drop on oak in Morgan Hill CA?
June 23, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants: We have a large, young Valley Oak (about 20 yrs) which is dropping leaves even now in early summer. I have a feeling that the problem might be an invasive weed that is flourishi...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Invasive Plants
June 22, 2004 - What is an invasive plant?
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of invasive grasses in backyard
July 17, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, How do I rid my yard of invasive grasses? I am finding Bermuda, stickers, crabgrass and maybe even Johnson grass throughout my backyard. The invasion is substantial in one 200+...
view the full question and answer

Removing invasive Dichelostemma firecracker plant from Austin
April 12, 2012 - We have dichelostemma firecracker plant & cannot kill it. We need help in getting rid of this plant. Spent another 3 hours digging up corms this afternoon. It is invading our backyard & want it kil...
view the full question and answer

Winter weeds in Flower Mound TX
February 19, 2009 - My lawn is being overrun by winter weeds. How can I get rid of them? Should I wait until March when I put down weed and feed fertilizer?
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