Friday, April 27, 2007

Lady of the Night

While speeding down certain highways at this time of year, you periodically see what look like small clusters of discarded pink Kleenex alongside the roadway. Slow down and the sight will almost always resolve into a patch of spent white evening primrose blossoms. Unless it is early morning or an overcast day, in which case the white flowers may still be near their prime.

Fortunately, this plant sits across the street from my house and I was able to follow a single blossom through its one-day cycle. Here at dusk, the tightly wound flower begins to unfurl.

By the time the flower was part way open, flash was necessary. Like most night-blooming white flowers, the evening primrose tries to entice insects with periodic puffs of a lavender-like scent.

Here's what I saw at about 10 a.m. this morning. For some reason, this particular patch of primrose has escaped the notice of the javelina, who love the somewhat fleshy roots -- they almost always destroy any plants I manage to get started up my hillside.

By the time I was setting off for a walk downtown at 2 p.m., the new blossom was completely spent. If you look closely, you'll see that the flower is connected to the heart of the plant by a long tube, rather than a stem; hence, its name -- stemless evening primrose. The seed pods are tight against the center of the plant.Why this species -- native to the Western hemisphere -- is called primrose, I've no idea. No relationship to the Old World primrose, in any event.

In the Prescott area, I've seen the tall Hooker's evening primrose out at Granite Basin Lake and elsewhere; pretty little ground-hugging yellow sundrops occur near Watson Lake and out the Perkinsville Road. For further info about the species, start with Wikipedia.

8 comments:

HERMANO said...

Time-lapse photography yet!

Hermano

Granny J said...

Hah! Frustrating photography, you mean...

Steve G said...

I need to find a small tripod. My camera will do time lapse, but I haven't tried it yet. Depending on how long you let it run, the battery might not last very long. Worth a try. Nice shots.

Granny J said...

I'm sure my batteries would go long before I got the pictures I wanted! As for tripods, I have a basement full of them, dating back through the years with my husband's photography. I refuse to get caught up in using a tripod -- my whole schtick is the freedom of a little digital point and shoot camera...

Lucy said...

One neighbour told me they were 'belles de nuit', so i repeated that to another, who laughed and said 'belles de nuit' were streetwalkers! Casts a new light on Hooker's evening primrose...
I'm with you on the tripod thing.

Granny J said...

Lucy -- after allowing a long time for ideas to percolate, I've still got no comeback to your Hooker's remark. To be mundane, I am presuming that Hooker was one of those many Anglo botanical explorers after whom so many species are named, at least in these parts.

Lane said...

One of my favorite flowers! Have not been successful in transplants from roadsides, but my mother has. They remind me of the yellow daily bloomers your mom had in her Florida yard...what were they called?

Granny J said...

Those, Lane, were the Hooker's evening primroses that everyone's making remarks about here. That's the official name, tho not botanical. Don't know what Mom called them. Anyhow they grow wild around here. As for the whites, scrounce around the body of the plant near the point where it comes out of the ground; you'll find lots of old seed pods. Pull a few off, open them and plant the seeds. You don't have javelina & so they should grow nicely!

 
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