Curly Dock
February 17, 2016
February 17, 2016

Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a native weed in many parts of the United States. This tall, flowering plant is often planted to attract insects that gather nectar to pollinate other plants. This biennial plant that can grow to a height of 7′; however, most examples of the plant are much shorter than this. The flower’s central stem is usually red or light green and is covered with fine white hair. Leaves can be light green or olive green and can grow as big as 8″ long, by 2″ wide, but are usually much smaller. The leaves look a lot like willow leaves. Smaller leaves also grow along the central stem.

A cluster of light yellow flowers – each about an inch across – form at the top of the stem. These tiny flowers have four petals, a long green calyx, and prominent stamens. This pretty weed has a nice mild lemon scent that attracts many flying insects and birds. Long, narrow seedpods form and split apart, releasing hundreds of small brown seeds. The seeds are then distributed by force of the wind, or by birds and insects eating them and dropping them wherever they can.

Although technically a weed, many people enjoy the beauty of evening primrose. This plant does have medicinal uses and is often made into an oil to be used to treat everything from acne to heart disease. The roots can be cooked and eaten in the first year, and the green stalks can be eaten in the second year. While herbalists enjoy the uses of this plant, farmer’s benefit from pollination.

The only downside to this weed is the fact that each flower spreads so many seeds, and these seeds can live in the soil for decades. Guess it’s not as bad as it could be, considering that evening primrose is, after all, a useful weed. Just not when it’s taking over your lawn!

Evening primrose is a weed that can be deal with by employing comprehensive cultural and chemical weed control practices.