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Oenothera caespitosa (Tufted evening primrose)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Oenothera caespitosa

Oenothera caespitosa Nutt.

Tufted Evening Primrose, Gumbo Evening Primrose, Gumbo Lily, Fragrant Evening Primrose, Tufted Evening-primrose

Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family)

Synonym(s): Oenothera cespitosa

USDA Symbol: OECA10

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

Rosettes of oblong leaves with pointed tips subtend Tufted Evening-primrose’s 4-6 in. flower stalks. Each large, white flower has four, heart-shaped petals and eight yellow stamens. The flowers open in late afternoon, close the next morning, and wither to pink or red-violet. Lateral roots may give rise to new perennial plants.

Tufted Evening-primrose is a member of the evening-primrose family (family Onagraceae), which includes mainly herbs, rarely shrubs or trees with often showy flowers. "Primrose" ultimately derives from a Latin word meaning "first" and the true primroses (Primulaceae), unrelated to evening-primroses, are among the first flowers to bloom in the spring. Apparently in the early 1600s when an eastern United States species of Oenothera was being described, its sweet scent reminded the botanist of wild primroses of Europe. He gave the name to those plants and it stuck.


From the Image Gallery

18 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 1 foot tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: White, fading to shades of pink to purple to violet.


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , OR , SD , TX , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , SK
Native Distribution: WA to w. ND, s. to s. CA & NM, south into Sonora and Chihuahua in northern Mexico
Native Habitat: Dry buttes, exposed hillsides & open woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Dry, clay soils.


Use Wildlife: Seed is eaten by many birds.
Use Medicinal: Root pounded into pulp and placed on swellings and sores .(Kindscher)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

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


Description: Sow unstratified seed in fall; stratified in spring. Germination is low. The long, woody roots are difficult to divide, but separation of offsets from the parent plants is effective.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds as they ripen throughout the season and store in a cool, dark area.
Seed Treatment: None required.
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.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Tohono Chul Park, Inc. - Tucson, AZ
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-21
Research By: TWC Staff

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