Common evening-primrose

Common Evening-primrose

©Northeast Wildlife

Common evening-primrose

Scientific name: Oenothera biennis
An introduced species, Common evening-primrose is now naturalised on waste ground, roadside verges and railway cuttings. It has long been used to produce the herbal remedy, evening-primrose oil.

Species information


Height: up to 1.5m

Conservation status

Introduced, but naturalised species.

When to see

June to September


Common evening-primrose, or 'Evening star', was introduced into the UK in the 1600s and has since become naturalised on dry waste ground, roadside verges, sand dunes and railway cuttings. Its common names allude to its large, yellow, sun-like flowers that only open in the evening. These blooms appear on tall spikes from June to September and attract bees, butterflies and moths searching for nectar. For this reason, Common evening-primrose is a good choice for wildlife gardens.

How to identify

Common evening-primrose has large, yellow flowers, comprising four petals, that appear in loose formation on tall stems. Its narrow, lance-shaped leaves have red veins.


Scattered distribution, mainly across Central and South East England.

Did you know?

Common evening-primrose has long been cultivated for its seeds which are the source of evening-primrose oil. This oil is used in complementary medicine to decrease premenstrual syndrome and to treat skin disorders such as dermatitis and psoriasis.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts record and monitor our local wildlife to understand the effects of various factors on their populations, such as the introduction of new species. You can help with this vital monitoring work by becoming a volunteer - you'll not only help local wildlife but learn new skills and make new friends along the way.