Evening Primrose (Oenotheraw biennis)
Evening Primrose is a species of herbaceous flowering plants native to the Americas and its root is commonly used for medicinal purposes in the form of oil.
Young Evening Primrose roots have a sweet flavour similar to parsnips while older roots are hot like radish. Roots can be scraped, sliced finely for salads or eaten boiled, fried or added to soups and stews.
Evening Primrose is best propagated by seed and can be planted all year round in warm to hot climates. The plant is not fussy about soil type, growing and flowering with little or no attention.
The American Indians gathered the herb to assist with wound healing and to use as a sedative painkiller, diuretic, cough remedy, for muscle spasm and for weight loss. It was popularised in the 17th century with many European gardeners growing it for both its attractive appearance and its medicinal qualities (this is why it is sometimes known as ‘king’s cure’).
In the early 1900’s, it was discovered that oil from Evening Primrose seeds contained linoleic and gammalinolenic acid (GLA), which sets Evening Primrose oil apart from many other oils and makes the plant so valuable to the body’s health. GLA helps with the upkeep of healthy cell membranes and produce prostaglandins, which regulate a range of functions including blood pressure, saliva production and inhibiting abnormal cell proliferation.
Evening Primrose has also been known to help stimulate the spleen, liver and digestive system and immune system. It is also used for the relief of the effects of premenstrual syndrome including mood swings, pain and fluid retention. Evening Primrose oil directly applied to the skin can assist with eczema.
Facts About Evening Primrose
Evening Primrose flowers unfold in the evening and flower most of the night, which is the reason behind its name. Most species have yellow flowers but some have white, purple, pink or red.
What are other sources of GLA?
In addition to Evening Primrose oil, GLA can also be found in oats, barley, blackcurrant oil, and spirulina.
Can I eat evening primrose plants?
Yes, Evening Primrose leaves can be used in salads, stews or tea. Roots can be boiled or fried and its flower can be added to pickles or used as an edible garnish.