Weeds? of Wednesday: 2 Members of the Evening Primrose Family

Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, Pollinator Plants, Weed

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder …

A weed sometimes is defined as a plant out of place. Members of the evening primrose family, Onagraceae, often are regarded as weeds by humans but beloved by bees and other pollinators. Two plants in this family — seaside evening primrose and southern beeblossom — seem to have become more common in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew …

On our field trip to Treasure Shores Park on 6/3, Nancy Soucy and Lani York spied a small plant with yellow flowers growing in the foot path as it sloped to the west away from the parking lot. That plant turns to to be seaside evening primrose (Oenothera humifisa), a native plant of coastal areas of the southeastern U.S.

Sunny yellow flowers are borne in the leaf axils (angles) of this prostrate, sprawling plant. Its species name, humifusa, refers to this growth habit.

Its leaves are entire or sinuate not pinnatifid (deeply divided) like the leaves of its yellow-flowered less-coastal cousin, cutleaf evening primrose (Oenothera laciniata) that sprawls forth from a basal rosette. Seaside evening primrose often is festooned with silken hairs unlike relative …

Seaside evening primrose is quite sand and salt-tolerant …

Though it visually appeared to be unrelated, southern beeblossom, shown below, has a new botanical name, Oenothera simulans, based on new genetic evidence. Guara angustifolia was its “old” botanical name, and other common names for this pretty plant include southern guara, morning honeysuckle, and morning guara.

The tiny flowers of this often lanky plant are held in terminal racemes and are white when they open after sunset and pinken with the passage of time to fade away the next day.

The tiny (less than dime-sized) flowers have 4 petals on the top side of the flower and prominent stamens with reddish-brown anthers. Despite their small stature, they are quite attractive to bees and butterflies.

Sometimes, this annual plant can sometimes be quite bushy … 

Flowers continue throughout the spring and summer, and distinctive seeds that do not split open form in the fall. It readily re-seeds and now can be seen flourishing along the south side Oslo Road to the east of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.

Seaside evening primrose and southern beeblossom, though “weedy”, are great bee plants.