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Botanical Name : Cenothera biennis
Species: O. biennis
Synonym: Tree Primrose.
Common Names: Evening primrose, Common evening-primrose, Evening star, or Sun drop
English Names: It is also known as Weedy evening-primrose, German rampion, Hog weed, King’s cure-all, and Fever-plant
Parts Used: Bark, leaves.
Habitat: The Evening or Tree Primrose, though originally a native of North Arnerica, was imported first into Italy and has been carried all over Europe, being often naturalized on river-banks and other sandy places in Western Europe. It is often cultivated in English gardens, and is apparently fully naturalized in Lancashire and some other counties of England, having been first a garden escape. It is found grows in dunes, roadsides, railway banks and waste places in Britain, often in sandy soils.
Oenothera biennis has a life span of two years (biennial plant) growing to 30–150 cm (12–59 in) tall. The leaves are lanceolate, 5–20 cm (2.0–7.9 in) long and 1–2.5 cm (0.39–0.98 in) broad, produced in a tight rosette the first year, and spirally on a stem the second year.
Blooming lasts from late spring to late summer. The flowers are hermaphrodite, produced on a tall spike and only last until the following noon. They open visibly fast every evening producing an interesting spectacle, hence the name “evening primrose.”
The blooms are yellow, 2.5–5 cm (0.98–1.97 in) diameter, with four bilobed petals. The flower structure has an invisible to the naked eye bright nectar guide pattern. This pattern is apparent under ultraviolet light and visible to its pollinators, moths, butterflies, and bees.
The fruit is a capsule 2–4 cm (0.79–1.57 in) long and 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in) broad, containing numerous 1–2 mm (0.039–0.079 in) long seeds, released when the capsule splits into four sections at maturity.
Cultivation: Prefers a dryish well-drained sandy loam and a warm sunny position, though it is tolerant of most soils. Heavy clay soils may induce winter rots. Grows well on very poor soils. Established plants are drought resistant. Formerly cultivated for its edible roots, the evening primrose is being increasingly cultivated for the oil contained in its seed which contains certain essential fatty acids and is a very valuable addition to the diet. See the notes on medicinal uses for more details. The flowers open in the evening and are strongly scented with a delicious sweet perfume, attracting pollinating moths. The seeds are a good food source for birds. Plants usually self-sow freely if they are growing in a suitable position, they can naturalize in the wild garden.
Propagation: Seed – sow in situ from late spring to early summer
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Oil; Root; Seedpod.
Edible Uses: Oil.
Root – cooked. Boiled and eaten like salsify. Fleshy, sweet and succulent. Wholesome and nutritious. A peppery taste. The taste somewhat resembles salsify or parsnips. Young shoots – raw or cooked. Mucilaginous, with a peppery flavour, they are best used sparingly. Another source suggests that the shoots should not be eaten. Flowers – sweet. Used in salads or as a garnish. Young seedpods – cooked. Steamed. The seed contains 28% of a drying oil. It is edible and a very good source of gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is not found in many plant sources and has numerous vital functions in the body. The seed, however, is very small and difficult to harvest, it has to be done by hand. Overall yields are low, making the oil very expensive to produce.
Parts Used in medicines: Bark and leaves. The bark is peeled from the flower-stems and dried in the same manner as the leaves, which are collected in the second year, when the flowerstalk has made its appearance.
Anticholesterolemic; Antipruritic; Astringent; Hypotensive; Miscellany; Sedative.
The bark and the leaves are astringent and sedative. They have proved of use in the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders of a functional origin, whooping cough and asthma. A syrup made from the flowers is also an effective treatment for whooping cough. The bark is stripped from the flowering stem and dried for later use, the leaves are also harvested and dried at this time. Evening primrose oil has become a well-known food supplement since the 1980’s. Research suggests that the oil is potentially very valuable in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, pre-menstrual tension, hyperactivity etc. It is also taken internally in the treatment of eczema, acne, brittle nails, rheumatoid arthritis and alcohol-related liver damage. Regular consumption of the oil helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the blood pressure. The seed is a good source of gamma-linolenic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid which assists the production of hormone-like substances. This process is commonly blocked in the body, causing disorders that affect the uterine muscles, nervous system and metabolism. The poulticed root is applied to piles and bruises. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of obesity and bowel pains.
Cosmetic; Dye; Miscellany; Oil.
The oil from the seed is added to skin preparations and cosmetics. It is often combined with vitamin E to prevent oxidation. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. A finely ground powder made from the flowering stems is used cosmetically in face-masks to counteract reddened skins.
Known Hazards: Lowers the threshold for epileptic fits (avoid). Caution if on anticoagulants. Combining with phenothiazines (allopathic medication) can trigger seizures. Adverse effects: may cause headaches and nausea on an empty stomach. Diarrhoea with high doses. Seizures in schizophrenic patients on phenothiazines (allergy antihistamines)
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.