Evening Primrose

(Oenothera spp.)

Other Names:
Suncups, Sundrops


Onagraceae – Primrose family

Growth Type:
An herbaceous biennial

The stalks can reach 3' - 4' in height

The basal rosette consists of lance shaped leaves reaching almost a foot in length. The leaves have ragged edges, and are covered with hairs. They have a prominent white midrib that can also have a reddish tint.

The second year plant produces a single erect, stout, reddish flower stalk. This stalk can reach 3' - 4' in height. The flower stalk may be branched at the base, or unbranched.

The fleshy white taproot can be over a foot long. In cold weather the taproot is often reddish in color.

Flower Season:
Summer through Autumn

Flower Appearance:
The flowers may be up to 1" across, and have 4 broad petals which unite at the base, forming a long tube. The four part stigma in the flowers center forms an unmistakable X. Drooping sepals grow beneath the flowers.


Miscellaneous characteristics:
The Oenothera genus consists of over 125 species. Some are annuals, while some are perennials. All are herbaceous. Various species can range in size from small alpine plants of about 10 cm to hardier tropical species growing up to 3 m in height. The flowers are typically yellow, although they can range from white to red to purple.

Disturbed areas, parks, empty lots, fields, and sea shores.

Parts Used:
Leaves, roots, and seeds

Wild Food Uses:
First year roots can be used as a cooked vegetable. Edible parts of the plant have a peppery, or radish-like flavor. The tender young leaves can be enjoyed as a cooked vegetable. They can also be dried, crushed, and used as a flour substitute, or enhancement. I cannot attest to the flavor of the flour, as I have, as of yet, not used the leaves for flour.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:
Recent scientific studies have shown this plant to be effective at treating allergy induced eczema, asthma, migraines, inflammation, PMS, breast problems, metabolic disorders, diabetes, arthritis, and alcoholism. There is also evidence that shows compounds contained in this plant are effective at treating prostatitis. American Indians used root tea to treat obesity, and bowel pain. They also used a poultice of the root for piles, and bruising. They also were said to have rubbed the root on muscles to give strength.

Medicinal Actions:
Antiasthmatic, Anti-Inflammatory, Carminative, Emollient,

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