Oenothera laciniata (Cut-leaved Evening Primrose)

Plant Info
Also known as: Ragged Evening Primrose
Family:Onagraceae (Evening Primrose)
Life cycle:annual, biennial, short-lived perennial
Habitat:sun; dry disturbed sandy soil; prairies, roadsides, waste areas
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:6 to 24 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals

[photo of flower] Flowers are single in the mid and upper leaf axils along branching stems, about 1 inch across with 4 heart-shaped yellow petals. In the center are 8 yellow stamens surrounding a bright yellow cross-shaped style that is mostly tucked inside the floral tube.

[photo of calyx, hypanthium and ovary] The 4 sepals are light green, narrowly lance-shaped and hang tightly down below the open petals, often in two pairs still attached along one seam (connivent) and with a short extension at the tip. Flowers are stalkless but the slender, pinkish tube (hypanthium) between the green ovary and the base of the sepals can be over an inch long and gives the appearance of a flower stalk. The hypanthium, ovary and sepals are all variously covered in long, spreading hairs.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, lance-elliptic to oblong in outline, 1 to 4 inches long, up to 1 inch across, shallowly to deeply lobed along the edges, the lower leaves short-stalked, the upper stalkless. The upper surface is hairless to sparsely hairy, the lower more densely hairy. Stems are single, unbranched or branched from the base, erect to ascending to sprawling, and variously hairy.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a slender, tubular capsule nestled in the leaf axil, ½ to 1¼ inches long, straight to slightly curved, with four small conspicuously flared lobes at the tip.

[photo of seeds] Inside are many light brown seeds, pitted all across the surface.


Cut-leaved Evening Primrose has only been recorded twice in Minnesota, the first in 1945, the second in 1991, and both on sandy dunes in the northern Twin Cities metro area. The DNR considers it native to the state even though our 2 populations seem a bit dysjunct from the next closest neighbors in Wisconsin and those populations have not persisted; it is not listed as rare but the DNR does track it. A native annual or short-lived perennial that spreads by reseeding, it is considered something of a weedy species in parts of its range and an agricultural pest in parts of California. While the flowers resemble those of other Evening Primrose species, the lobed leaves and somewhat ragged growth habit separate it from the rest.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in his garden.


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