Midwestern Wanderlog

2016-07-31 – Evening primrose (in the morning)

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This morning was just a little bizarre.  Got a good, though not-quite-solid, night’s sleep, nearly a full eight hours.  Had time for a shower before leaving the house, and still got to the trail start of the Bluff two minutes shy of a full hour early.

Sunrise Stats!
First light: 5:23 AM
Sunrise: 5:57 AM
Daylight: 15 hrs, 47 min

We walked the long trail, Cody and I, in relaxed fashion.  The temperature was in the low sixties, with no wind walking up.  (Had mosquitoes buzzing around my head and whining in my ears.  Had to pause partway up to dig out the lemon-eucalyptus spray out and apply it.)  The wind was pretty fierce once we were walking the topline – a lovely morning, complete with entertaining cloud formations.

Though the brilliant color on the undersides of those clouds never developed as I’d anticipated.

_MG_2704Now, since I didn’t get to it yesterday – would have made the blog post just a hair too long – here they are today!

This tall prairie beauty is Oenothera biennis, the Common Evening Primrose.  (It’s closely related to the Northern Primrose, with just a hair of difference in the sepal (the Northern has a knob or ridge on the green leafy bit that held the flower until it opened).  They bloom from early July to October, producing flower after flower, with only a few on the plant open at any given time.

The name evening primrose is descriptive, and accurate; the flowers open in the cool of the evening and they’re open all night and into the morning.  Why?  Because of their pollinators.  The evening primrose is pollinated by hawkmoths as well as bees.  They also attract a peculiar species known as the parasitic moths, whose caterpillars eat flowers and seeds.  (The adults are blood and body fluid suckers, which is actually kind of cool.  There’s about 40 different species of those in Asia, Africa, and North America.)

So the hawkmoths home in on them at night, seeking by scent and by color – which is why the evening primrose is usually a bright yellow.  Let me tell you, it stands out pretty well even in the half-dark of predawn.  And the bees are interested in them during the early morning.  They’re a biennial (not to be confused with biannual), so they only live two years, growing their leaves in the first year and blooming to set seed in the second.

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