Category: Onagraceae

  • Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana)

    Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea canadensis or Circaea lutetiana)

    This is either Circaea lutetiana or Circaea canadensis or Circaea lutetiana ssp. canadensis. Some botanists consider the North American populations to be a separate species from the European ones, but others—like the USDA PLANTS Database—put them together as one species, or make the North American ones a subspecies of the European species.

    Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea canadensis or Circaea lutetiana)

    At any rate, it is a charming little flower that can bloom in deep shade. The flowers are tiny, but unusually shaped, and deserve a closer look. The neat habit of the plant makes it suitable for shade gardens, and it is becoming popular among native-plant enthusiasts.

    Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea canadensis or Circaea lutetiana)

    These plants were photographed in Bird Park, Mount Lebanon, where the species is abundant.

    Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea canadensis or Circaea lutetiana)

    For a description of the species, see the Circaea lutetiana reference page.

    Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea canadensis or Circaea lutetiana)
    Photographed June 20 with a Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z6.
  • Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

    Oenothera biennis
    Photographed August 30.

    A tall and stately weed whose flowers we almost never get to see in their full glory. It’s a night-bloomer, opening at dusk and fading in the early hours of the morning. It will, however, stay open on a rainy day; we found this plant blooming merrily out of a sidewalk crack on the South Side Slopes.

    Flowers. Pale yellow; four broad petals; cross-shaped anther in the middle; borne in branching racemes.

    Leaves. Lanceolate, sessile, slightly toothed; net-veined, with center rib often reddish toward base; alternate; thick on the stem, with branches or abortive branches in axils; mostly smooth.

    Stem. Stout; somewhat sticky; woody below, with dark brownish stripes; to 6 feet or more; much branched.

    Flower close up

    At one time this plant was placed in a genus Onagra, from which the family Onagraceae was named; but Gray and most modern botanists make that genus part of Oenothera.

    Gray describes the genus and the species:

    ONAGRA (Adans.) Ser. Stigma-lobes linear, elongated; flower-buds upright; petals yellow; fruit subcylindrical, elongated; seeds in 2 rotos in each cell; caulescent annuals or biennials.

    O. biennis L. (COMMON E.) Rather stout, erect, 3-15 dm. high, usually simple, more or less spreading-pubescent to hirsute; leaves lanceolate to oblong or rarely ovate-lanceolate, repandly denticulate, acute or acuminate; bracts lanceolate, shorter than or scarcely exceeding the capsules; calyx-tube 2.5-3.5 cm. long; petals yellow, obovate, 1.5-2.5 cm. long; pods more or less hirsute, narrowed almost from the base, 2-3.5 cm. long. (Onagra Scop.) —Open places, common.

    Oenothera biennis
  • Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

    Photographed September 10.

    In cool weather it is sometimes possible to catch an Evening Primrose open in the middle of the day, though the flowers usually close by the middle of the morning. In an earlier article, we gave this description of it:

    A tall and stately weed whose flowers we almost never get to see in their full glory. It’s a night-bloomer, opening at dusk and fading in the early hours of the morning.

    Flowers. Pale yellow; four broad petals; cross-shaped anther in the middle; borne in branching racemes.

    Leaves. Lanceolate, sessile, slightly toothed; net-veined, with center rib often reddish toward base; alternate; thick on the stem, with branches or abortive branches in axils; mostly smooth.

    Stem. Stout; somewhat sticky; woody below, with dark brownish stripes; to 6 feet or more; much branched.

  • Biennial Gaura (Oenothera gaura)

    A tall member of the Evening Primrose family (Onagraceae) distinguished by its spindly flowers with prominent stamens. It was formerly classified in its own genus as Gaura biennis. It is not a common flower around here, but it is very adaptable in its habitat. These were blooming in the Kane Woods Nature Area, Scott Township, in a clearing near a woodland stream.

  • Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

    A tall and stately weed whose flowers we almost never get to see in their full glory. It’s a night-bloomer, opening at dusk and fading in the early hours of the morning. These pictures were taken shortly after sunrise at the edge of a parking lot in Beechview, where Evening Primroses were blooming in the middle of August.

    Flowers. Pale yellow; four broad petals; cross-shaped anther in the middle; borne in branching racemes.

    Leaves. Lanceolate, sessile, slightly toothed; net-veined, with center rib often reddish toward base; alternate; thick on the stem, with branches or abortive branches in axils; mostly smooth.

    Stem. Stout; somewhat sticky; woody below, with dark brownish stripes; to 6 feet or more; much branched.

    At one time this plant was placed in a genus Onagra, from which the family Onagraceae was named; but Gray and most modern botanists make that genus part of Oenothera.

    Gray describes the genus and the species:

    OENOTHERA L. EVENING PRIMROSE. Calyx-tube prolonged beyond the ovary, deciduous; the lobes 4, reflexed. Petals 4. Stamens 8; anthers mostly linear and versatile. Capsule 4-valved, many-seeded. Seeds naked or with an obscure membranaceous crest. — Leaves alternate or rarely all basal. Flowers yellow, white, or rose-color. (An old name of unknown origin, for a species of Epilobium.)

    § 1. ONAGRA (Adans.) Ser. Stigma-lobes linear, elongated; flower-buds upright; petals yellow; fruit subcylindrical, elongated; seeds in 2 rotos in each cell; caulescent annuals or biennials.

    O. biennis L. (COMMON E.) Rather stout, erect, 3-15 dm. high, usually simple, more or less spreading-pubescent to hirsute; leaves lanceolate to oblong or rarely ovate-lanceolate, repandly denticulate, acute or acuminate; bracts lanceolate, shorter than or scarcely exceeding the capsules; calyx-tube 2.5-3.5 cm. long; petals yellow, obovate, 1.5-2.5 cm. long; pods more or less hirsute, narrowed almost from the base, 2-3.5 cm. long. (Onagra Scop.) —Open places, common.