Sunday, August 22, 2010

Native Plants of Franklin

Were you able to identify last week's mystery plant? Here it is, providing food to a hummingbird:

This is Oenothera biennis, otherwise known as common evening primrose. You've likely seen it in fields and weedy places, but you may never have noticed its amazing scent. Evening primrose blooms at night to attract moths. The flowers wilt under the hot sun, so the best time to see and smell this plant is early in the morning. Early in the morning is also when you are most likely to see hummingbirds feeding from its flowers.

Like many native flowers of North America, evening primrose is a biannual, meaning it goes through its entire lifecycle in two years. The plant grows as a small rosette of foliage the first year, and shoots upward with a flower stalk on the second. Under the right conditions, such as in a sunny location against a wall, it can grow eight feet tall and can produce hundreds of yellow flowers.

Seeds of evening primrose are easy to collect: simply break off seed-pods from a spent plant, and break them open. Seeds can then be scattered where you would like the plant to grow.

If you grow this plant in your garden, consider leaving the dead flower stalks standing through the winter to provide food for goldfinches.

And here is our next native plant:

Feel free to post your guesses here in the comments section!

If you would like to see more photos of hummingbirds here in Franklin, you can visit my blog at .

Franklin, MA


  1. Michelle, did you take the picture from my sidewalk?

    I'm kidding, of course, but it certainly looks like a familiar setting.

    I'll be curious to see what it is. I do see them!

  2. Nope, that's not your sidewalk, it's mine. :) But I bet you have the same plant growing in your sidewalk. They grow in hot weather in locations where little else can survive. Since they tend to grow where they aren't wanted, I think this plant is pretty universally dubbed a weed.