Tufted Evening Primrose
Oenothera caespitosa Nutt.
What a super plant! This low-growing, short-lived plant produces huge, fragile-looking white flowers with a sweet lemony fragrance. The flowers, which are often visited by hawk moths, open in the evening and shrivel in the heat of the day. It can be a vigorous reseeder depending on where it is placed—as a result it will move around your landscape, dying out here, sprouting up there. This plant has a taproot, so transplant it when it is young. (Some other native Oenothera’s spread aggressively underground, becoming garden pests— know your Oenothera before you plant it!) Rabbits may chew on the plant, especially when food sources are scarce. Given the chance, tufted evening primrose will usually recover very well from this activity.
Water needs: very dry to moderately moist
Exposure: full sun
Availability in nurseries: uncommon but reasonably easy to start from seed
Native range: western U.S. and central Canada (WY native)
Plant family: Onagraceae
Photo by Jennifer Thompson