Oenothera is a genus of about 100 species of herbaceous plants in the family Onagraceae, native to the Western Hemisphere.
Oenothera has simple or lobed leaves and fragrant, bowl-shaped flowers. It has four petals, four sepals and eight stamens. Oenotheras are versatile and can be used in a variety of landscape settings!
It is believed that the name “Oenothera” comes from the Greek words “oinos” and “theras”, meaning “wine-seeker”, which refers to an ancient use of the plant in scenting wine.
There are many common names for different species of Oenothera.
For example, Oenothera biennis, Oenothera lamarckiana and some other species are commonly known as “Evening Primroses”. The name Evening Primrose refers to the habit of the plant to open its flowers only in the evening. Oenothera Mexicana is commonly called “Mexican Evening Primrose”. Oenothera fruticosa is also known as “Sundrops” or “Southern Sundrops”, while Oenothera elata is known by the common name “Hooker’s Evening Primrose” or “Tall Evening Primrose”.
Oenothera is a symbol of protection, youth and love.
Interesting facts about Oenothera:
Is Oenothera Invasive?
Oenotheras can be aggressive and potentially invasive. Some species, such as Oenothera mexicana (Mexican Evening Primrose), are very invasive.
The Contributions of Oenothera to Biology
Oenothera has made many contributions towards intergrating the ecology, evolution and genetics of species interactions.
Oenothera biennis has played a big role in the modern synthesis of evolutionary biology.
Hugo de Vries, an evolutionary biologist best known for his mutation theory, based his work on the studies of Oenothera lamarckiana, commonly known as Evening Primrose.
Benefits and Uses
Oenothera oil is used in various herbal remedies. It is usually derived from the seeds of Oenothera biennis and contains an essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
The oil has been used to treat headaches, heart disease, eczema, diabetes, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, menopausal symptoms, menstrual and skin problems. It has also been used as a complementary treatment for some cancers.
Oenothera produces yellow, pink and white flowers.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
The species vary in size from 15 cm to 2,5 metres (6 inches to 8 ft) high.
Oenothera prefers well-drained soil and will do well in poor soil.