Evening Primrose (Onagraceae)
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Adaptability, along with the good sense to produce flashy, four petal flowers, explains much of the success of plants in the Evening Primrose family (Onagraceae).
Most at home in the temperate areas of North America, evening primrose species mark their presence along coastal areas, desert floors and mountain tops.
Capturing the imagination of poets and botanists alike, many of the flowering plants are night bloomers, adapted to the pollination patterns of night insects such as moths.
Many Evening Primrose species adapt easily to garden life. Members of pink flowered genus Clarkia, for example, catch the attention of gardeners based a bit on their colorful presence and history. Clarkia are formally named for William Clark, as an honor of the Lewis and Clark Expedition botanical contributions.
The top picture, pink fairies or Ragged Robin (Clarkia puchella), unlike many Clarkia, the notched petals do not curl up in a cup shape.
Species belonging to the genus Camissonia, suncups, also make a large splash across Western North America, where close to six dozen species call one ecological niche or another, home.
Beach Primrose (Camissonia cheiranthifolia), for example, grows in mats along the dunes and coastal areas from Southern California to Southern Oregon.
Over one dozen California Camissonia species are listed are rare. The red spots on the bottom of the petals is a rare form of the Beach Primrose. Most species have solid yellow petals.
The Brown-eyed Primrose (Camissonia claviformis), on the other hand, spread their roots and adapt to both desert and mountain climates in the Western United States.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), a large and showy flowering plants in the Evening Primrose family, grows in most areas of the United States, with the exception of the Southeast and lower Midwest.
The purple flowers grow in spikes along the top of the plant's stem, and because the plant can grow to six feet in length, many people can see the flowers at eye level.
Large butterflies like swallowtails are attracted to the plant.
The willowherb genus (Epilobium) in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae) consists of almost four dozen native plants, often having four notched petals.
Epilobium are found throughout the United States, some like the Fireweed growing very tall, others growing close to the ground.
With the exception of the Southeast, Fringed Willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum) grows in most wetland areas of the United States.
Do not let the large pink petals fool you, the Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa), is one tough flower, easily grown in many poor soils.
It's a showy spring blooming plant found in the wild and in gardens throughout much of the southern tier of the United States.
These perennials grow up to a foot in height and easily spread their range in any yard or garden by sending out rhizomes. With a modicum of care, they make excellent native garden flowers for USDA Zones 5 - 9.
© 2009-2011 Patricia A. Michaels