Oenothera biennis – Common Evening Primrose

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Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a native plant that is edible tip to root. It can be found growing in yard edges and old fields. It will even grow in sand and clay.
Evening primrose is a biennial, producing a basal rosette its first year and sending up a tall flower stalk its second year. It produces light yellow flowers with four rounded petals that open evening to early morning.
Evening primrose has multiple edible parts. The roots can be harvested late fall of the 1st year plants or early spring of the 2nd year plants, before the plant sends up a flower stalk. Roots can be peeled and cooked similar to parsnips.
Leaves can be harvested from the flower stalk and cooked. Edible flowers can be picked and eaten from mid-summer to fall.
Seeds can be harvested fall and winter. Seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a slightly nutty flavor. The seeds are pressed for evening primrose oil which has been used to treat eczema and nerve damage from Diabetes.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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