Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose

Finding beauty in the off-season

Soon everything will burst out in buds, bloom and generally become more bodacious in an effort to attract pollinators and the like. So now is the time to appreciate last year’s plant skeletons before they get pushed aside by flourishing flowers. Those fibrous, weedy things that are still left standing along the edges of fields are worthy of a little recognition.

Take the desiccated stalks of last year’s Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis), for example. From 1 to 5 feet in height, they are tall and striking, and I find they make an elegant off-season bouquet.

Evening primrose grows well in sandy or marginal soils, can tolerate dry conditions, and has the distinctive habit of only opening its yellow-petaled flowers in the evening and into the night. They do this to attract moths, which are among this flower’s preferred pollinators.

The plant has a long history of medicinal use for a wide variety of ailments including hemorrhoids, bruises, wounds, and rheumatoid arthritis. They are a native plant that makes a lovely, albeit sometimes aggressive, addition to any garden.

So, if you are in need of a decorative bouquet on your table, I encourage you to go in search of a few of last season’s weeds!

detail of dried evening primrose flowerThis photo was taken with Cosy Magnifier, a free app that magnifies and photographs and is available for your Android phone. To learn more about Evening Primrose and many other New England plants, I highly recommend a site called Go Botany. You can search by plant or use their key to identify plants you find.