William Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora

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William Bartram collected this Evening Primrose, also know as Florida Tree Primrose, in 1775 in Alabama.  He returned to his father’s (John Bartram) garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to start the seeds and also sent some to his patron in London.  The Bartrams ran a nursery in colonial times and collected plants from all over America, sending many specimens on to England.

Bartrams’s Garden is now a historical site opened to the public.   Over the years  Oenothera grandiflora had disappeared from the garden and around 2008 it was recollected in the wild and planted back at Bartram’s.

The plant pictured here is from seed gathered at Bartram’s Garden and was planted in 2011.  It grew into a small plant with  leaves that were about 10 inches long and stayed that way for a year.  This spring it started to grow stems up to 6 feet tall with smaller leaves.  At the end of August it finally bloomed! As it is an Evening Primrose, it opens at night and has a scent strong enough to smell from a distance.  These photos had to be taken at first light before the blooms closed for the day.

This Evening Primrose has new flowers opening daily on at least six stems.  Each spent bloom is forming seeds, showing promise for next year’s crop.  As it flowers in late summer, it definitely will be a good addition for the Automatic Garden.

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10 Comments on “William Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora”

  1. Tina says:

    Wow, not familiar with this beauty, but what a gorgeous thing!

  2. Very pretty, not sure I have seen one before. Think the rabbits are menopausal and they are taking it for hot flashes?

  3. Rabbits are only cure when they are far away from one’s favourite plants.

  4. Cathy says:

    This is very pretty. The leaves are darker and glossier then those of my Oenothera odorata, which are long and thin and slightly reddish.


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