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Wolf's evening primrose (Oenothera wolfii)

Oenothera wolfii flower
Oenothera wolfii plant
Oenothera wolfii habitat
Flowers (left), habit (center), and habitat (right) of Wolf’s evening primrose. Photos by ODA staff. If downloading images from this website, please credit the photographer.


Plant description
Erect, branching biennial to short-lived perennial, 5-15 dm tall, with greenish or red stems covered with stiff hairs. Plants form a basal rosette with elliptical leaves in the first year, and typically bolt and flower the following year. Flowers are pale yellow to yellow and are usually less than 4 cm in diameter. Sepals and fruits are often red-tinged and pubescent.

Distinguishing characteristics
Oenothera wolfii is the only native species of this genus occurring on the southern Oregon coast. However, O. glazioviana, a garden escapee, has naturalized on the California coast and it is possible that this non-native has made its way up to Oregon. The two species are very similar in appearance. Oenothera glazioviana is often slightly larger than O. wolfii, with flowers reaching 5 cm in diameter. Flower petals are often overlapping, and O. glazioviana stems are covered with long, spreading hairs with red, blister-like bases.

Well-drained sandy soil in coastal strands, roadsides and coastal bluffs. Native species associated with Wolf’s evening primrose include Abronia latifolia, Abronia umbellata ssp. breviflora, Achillea millefolium, Anaphalis margaritacea, Baccharis pilularis, Elymus mollis, Equisetum arvense, Fragaria chiloensis, Garrya elliptica, Gaultheria shallon, Lonicera involucrata, Lupinus sp., Mimulus guttatus, Phacelia argentea, Picea sitchensis, Polygonum paronychia, Pteridium aquilinum, Rubus spectabilis, and Salix hookeriana. Non-native species found in Wolf’s evening primrose habitat include Ammophila arenaria, Cytisus scoparius, Daucus carota, and Lotus corniculatus.

Southern Oregon and northern California coast.

Oregon counties

Federal status
Species of Concern

Habitat loss and degradation due to development, dune stabilization, road construction/maintenance, and non-native invasive plants. Also threatened by hybridization with the non-native Oenothera glazioviana.

Did you know?
The genus Oenothera has many culinary and medical uses. Leaves and stems are mucilaginous and can be made into a tea for sore throats and coughs. Salves made from Oenothera species have been used topically to reduce swelling. In addition, certain species of evening primrose are grown as a new, high value oilseed crop, capable of replacing whale oil.

Current/Recent ODA projects
Wolf's evening primrose recovery efforts

Carlson, M.L., R.J. Meinke, and A. Wierck. 2001. Wolf’s Evening Primrose (Oenothera wolfii), Hybridization, reproductive ecology, seed germination and cultivation. Report prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Region 1. Native Plant Conservation Program, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Salem, Oregon.
Center for Plant Conservation. 2004. Online plant profile of Oenothera wolfii. http://www.centerforplantconservation.org/ASP/CPC_ViewProfile.asp?CPCNum=3004. Accessed March 2, 2004.
Fieldsend, A. F. and J.I.L. Morison. Contrasting growth and dry matter partitioning in winter and spring evening primrose crops (Oenothera ssp.). Field Crops Research 68(1):9-20.
Hickman, J.C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.
ORNHIC (Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center). 2003. Oregon Natural Heritage Informatin Center Database. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Portland, Oregon.