Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West also contains a glossary of medical terms as do all of Michael Moore’s books.)
Common Name: Evening Primrose, Pale Evening Primrose, Hairy Evening Primrose
Latin Name: Oenothera biennis, O. elata (O. hookeri) , O. pallida. O. villosa
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=OEBI all states excluding Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado (Oenothera biennis)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=OEELH west of the Rockies but including Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma (Oenothera elata)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=OEPA main database for pallida-western states including Texas, excluding California (Oenothera pallida)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=OEVI main database for villosa- all states excluding Alaska, Louisiana, Florida, N and S. Carolina (Oenothera villosa)
Photos: (Oenothera biennis )
(Oenothera elata )(Oenothera pallida )(Oenothera villosa )
(PFAF website covers two)
Common Name: Evening Primrose ( O. biennis )
Appearance and Habitat: Dunes roadsides, railway banks, and waste places, often in sandy soils. Eastern N. America -Labrador south to Florida and Texas. It is a biennial growing to 1.2 m (4ft). It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.
Edible Uses: 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.
Medicinal Uses: 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.
Medicinal Uses: Collect the flowering tops, before too many seed pods appear, and dry them in a paper sack. For the root, split it length wise and dry it in the cheesecloth fold (That I have described), in the shade. Chop the root, fresh or dried, and boil it slowly in twice the volume of the root in honey. It makes a cough syrup that is both soothing and an antispasmodic. Take a tablespoon every 3 or 4 hours as needed. The dried plant tops can also be used in this manner. Both the root an herb have a diuretic function and a sedative function in some people. Is also has some laxative effect and can suppress skeletal and muscle pain. All parts of the plant contain potassium nitrate. (Important source for making gun powder, potassium nitrate can be removed with water it is highly soluble.) The seeds contain gamma-lnoleic acid (GLA) and can be ground and mixed in equal portions of flaxseed oil, keep refrigerated, and take one or two tablespoons daily. This is cheaper than GLA supplements or omega 3 fish oils and often the seed has high concentrations of free-radical lipid peroxide.