Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Edible Wild Plants/Evening Primrose

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Evening Primrose


Description: Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a biennial (living for two years) flowering plant growing to 30–150 cm tall. The leaves are lanceolate, 5–20 cm long and 1–2.5 cm broad, produced in a tight rosette in the first year, and spirally on the stem in the second year. The flowers are pale yellow, 2.5–5 cm diameter, with four petals; they are produced on a tall spike from late spring to late summer. They open in the evening, hence the name "evening primrose", and close by the following noon.

Where found: Throughout most of North America, excluding the desert southwest north to Idaho, and the far northern reaches of the continent.

Availability: Year-round.

Use: The large tap root of the first-year plant can be cleaned, peeled and boiled as a vegetable. The roots can grow to the size of a large carrot. The first year plants are easiest to find by locating the second year plants first, and then searching the vicinity for the basal rosettes of the first year specimens. By the second year the roots are too tough to eat.
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