En EspaÑol
Share

NPIN: Native Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Search native plant database:
Name:    
Family:    
See a list of all Plants





Oenothera biennis (Common evening-primrose)
Flaigg, Norman G.

Oenothera biennis

Oenothera biennis L.

Common evening-primrose, King's cure-all

Onagraceae (Evening-Primrose Family)

Synonym(s): Oenothera biennis ssp. caeciarum, Oenothera biennis ssp. centralis, Oenothera biennis var. pycnocarpa, Oenothera muricata, Oenothera pycnocarpa

USDA Symbol: oebi

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

At the top of a leafy stalk bloom lemon-scented, large yellow flowers. Stem hairy, often purple-tinged. King’s cure-all or common evening primrose is an erect, 2-6 ft. biennial with leafy, branched stems from a basal rosette. The bright-yellow, four-petaled flowers, up to 2 inches across, open at night. These fragrant flowers occur in a many-flowered, terminal spike.

The flowers of this night-flowering biennial open in the evening and close by noon. The plant takes 2 years to complete its life cycle, with basal leaves becoming established the first year, and flowering occurring the second. The roots are edible, and the seeds are important as bird feed. Most of the evening-primroses have yellow flowers. Showy Evening-primrose (O. speciosa) has pink or white flowers.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Biennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf: Green
Flower:
Fruit:
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CA , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Nf. to s.e. Alt., s. to GA, LA & n.e. TX
Native Habitat: Dry, rocky plains; disturbed areas; lake shores; open woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Rocky or sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Common evening primrose does well in newly established landscapes, but does not persist. Seeds stay, however, and germinate if soil is disturbed.

Benefit

Use Wildlife: The flowers of this plant attract a variety of moths. Small mammals eat the roots and leaves of young plants. Birds eat the seeds. Deer graze older plants.
Use Food: Roots and shoots edible.
Use Medicinal: Clinical trials with Evening Primrose oil indicate that it may be evaluable in treating a number of disorders, including heart disease and arthritis. (Clough) Studies have shown that evening-primrose oil can help treat eczema, asthma, migraine headaches, heart disease, high coholesterol, inflammation, PMS, breast problems, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even alcoholism. (Kershaw) Amerindians used root tea for obesity, bowel pains; poulticed roots for piles, bruises; rubbed root on muscles to give athletes strength (Foster & Duke) Whole plant soaked in warm water used as a poultice to heal bruises.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Hummingbirds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Propagation

Description: Sow unstratified seed in fall – stratified in spring. Tip cuttings can be taken in spring.
Seed Collection: Collect in Aug. to Nov.
Seed Treatment: Dry stratification greatly increases the germination rate.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU FACU FACU FACU FACU FACU
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Wildflower Farm - Coldwater, ON
Ohio Prairie Nursery - Hiram, OH

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

Bibref 610 - Edible wild plants of the prairie : an ethnobotanical guide (1987) Kindscher, K.
Bibref 417 - Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America (2000) Foster, S. & J. A. Duke
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1989 VOL. 6, NO.2 - Wildflower Network Operates in Louisiana, Wildflower Handbook Published, Researc...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Oenothera biennis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Oenothera biennis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Oenothera biennis

Metadata

Record Modified: 2012-12-09
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back

E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center