Wild Evening Primrose
Origin: Elmer, NJ
Improvement Status: Wild
Seeds per packet: ~100
Germination tested 11/2023: 28%
Life cycle: Biennial
Evening Primrose is native to Eastern and Central North America, and is commonly found growing in disturbed areas. Yet while many farmers consider this biennial forb to be a weed, it his a highly prized wild edible and medicinal plant with a myriad of uses. Practically all parts of the plant are edible. The roots, particularly from its first autumn through to when it sends up its flower spike the next year, are a tasty vegetable raw or cooked. The leaves, especially palatable in spring, before flowering, are good raw or cooked as well, and are highly nutritious, containing flavonoids, mucilages, tannins, and phytosterols. The flower buds and flowers are a particular delicacy in salads, and the unripe seed pods make great little pickles.
But the plant is most widely used for its seeds, which contain essential amino acids including methionine, cysteine, and tryptophan, along with the much sought-after polyunsaturated fatty acid Gamma-Linolenic Acid (or GLA). The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked, and have a mild, nutty taste that makes a good addition to salads or stir-frys. Evening Primrose Oil, pressed from the seeds, is increasingly popular as a dietary supplement. The yellow flowers are also quite attractive, particularly when they open in the early evening. If the dried stalks are allowed to stand through winter, the seeds provide an important food source for wild birds.
GROWING TIPS: Direct seed after danger of last frost or start under cover and transplant healthy plant starts after danger of last frost. Plants should be at least 10 inches apart. Prefers full sun. Very likely to naturalize.