Other Names: Common Evening Primrose, Fever
plant, Great Evening-Primrose, King's-cure-all, Night willow-herb, Scabish, Scurvish,
Photo by Karen Bergeron Copyright 2001
Evening Primrose is a North American native biennial plant. The plants
are very tall, often 4 to 5 feet or more in height. The stem is erect, stout,
soft-hairy, reddish and branching forming a shrub. Leaves are alternate,
rough-hairy, lanceolate, about 3 to 6 inches long and lemon-scented. The taproot is
elongated, fibrous, yellow on the outside and whitish within. The flower spikes grow
on auxiliary branches all along the stalk. They are about 2-1/2 inched in diameter,
bright yellow and have four petals, a cross shaped stigma and a refluxed calyx
(leaves under petals). The flowers open in the evening and close up during the day
and are strongly scented with a delicious sweet perfume which attracts pollinating
moths. The fruit is an oblong 1 in. capsule containing many tiny reddish seeds.
Evening Primrose is found east of the
Rockies to the Atlantic. Naturalized in Britain but found all over
the world. It grows by roadsides, railway banks and waste places in
dry open soils, gravelly places, meadows and old fields.
Evening Primrose is in bloom from
June to September. The entire plant is edible, gather edible roots
and leaves in spring may be frozen, gather flowers, buds and young
seed pods in bloom, gather entire plant in fall and dry for later
herb use. Evening Primrose Oil is made from pressing oil from the
tiny seeds. You can also grind the seeds of Evening Primrose and use
them as you would flax seed.
Evening primrose is easily cultivated, it prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline)
well-drained soils and requires full sun. Plants will last two years and are self
Evening Primrose is edible and medicinal and has a long history of use as
an alternative medicine . The leaves are cooked and eaten as greens and the roots
are said to be sweet succulent and delicious when boiled like potatoes. Flowers are
a sweet addition to salads or as a garnish and young seedpods are Steamed. This
plant was a staple food for many Native American tribes. Formerly cultivated for its
nutritious edible roots, it is being increasingly cultivated for the oil contained
in its seeds which contains certain the essential gamma-linoleinc acid (GLA), a very
valuable fatty acid that is not found in many plants and has numerous vital
functions in the body. GLA is an essential fatty acid that the body does not
manufacture. This fatty acid is known to help prevent hardening of the arteries,
heart disease, eczema, cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, PMS, multiple
sclerosis, and high blood pressure. It has a positive effect on sex hormone response
including the hormones estrogen and testosterone, aids in lowering cholesterol
levels, and is important in treating cirrhosis of the liver. Research also
demonstrates that primrose oil helps relieve pain and inflammation. The oil also has
a positive effect on the uterine muscles, nervous system and metabolism. The bark
and the leaves are astringent and sedative. They have proved of use in the treatment
of gastro-intestinal disorders, whooping cough and asthma. A tea made from the roots
is used in the treatment of obesity. A finely ground powder made from the flowering
stems is used cosmetically in face-masks to counteract reddened skins.
Click here to purchase Organic Evening Primrose Oil
Roasted seeds: Rotate and press dry seed capsules to release seed, roast in oven for
15 to 20 min. at 350 deg. Use on bread or in salad, sprinkle over any dish like
Article by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron
Next > Feverfew
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This information is
intended as an introduction to how medicinal herb plants are used.
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not mean it is safe! There are herbs that are poisonous such as
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I will be happy to
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