72. Evening primrose

primrose

Common names include evening primrose, sun cups, and sun drops refer to the  herbaceous flowering plants native to America.

It belongs to the Oenothera- a genus of 145 species.The name is a misnomer since they are not related to true primroses.

The species vary in size from a height of mere 10 centimetres to vigorous lowland species growing to 300 centimetres. The flower bloom at nights from May to July. These flowers stage one of the most startling wild flower displays in the deserts.

Their vivid yellow blossoms measure 5 inches across! Individual flowers last only one day! They bloom in the evening and wither the next day. Many species open their flowers in the evening, justifying  the name “evening primrose”. The flowers may open quickly – in less than a minute.

Their leaves are narrow, lance shaped and 6 inches long! Short hair on the surface of the leaves give them a silvery sheen. Plant grow in a low and sprawling manner. The leaves form a basal rosette at ground level and spiral up to the flowering stems. The blades are dentate or deeply lobed.

Most species have yellow flowers, but some have white, purple, pink, or red. Most native desert species are white. A species of western North America, produces white flowers which turn pink with age. One of the most distinctive features of this flower is the X shaped stigma with four branches.

Also, the flowers open at a time when most bee species are inactive! so the bees which visit Oenothera are the bees that forage in the evening.

The seeds ripen from late summer to fall. In the wild, evening primroses quickly appearing in recently cleared areas. They can be found in dunes, roadsides, railway embankments, and waste areas.

Evening primrose oil is marketed as a remedy for cancer. But  there is very little evidence for its effectiveness, according to the American Cancer Society.

A number of perennial members of the genus are commonly cultivated and used in landscaping in the south western United States. Popular species include tufted evening primrose and Mexican evening primrose.

Annual evening primroses are also popular in gardens as ornamental plants. Many species resist droughts.

This plant is considered to have many medical properties. It can cure head-aches, induce labour and cure baldness as well as laziness- the first ever known cure for laziness!

All the parts of this plant are edible.The roots are eaten like potatoes.

Visalakshi Ramani

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