A family of herbs or shrubs with perfect, usually four-parted flowers, four petals, four sepals, four or eight stamens and a two or four-parted stigma.
Great Willow-Herb; Fireweed (Epilobium Angustifolium) springs up in profusion and attains its greatest growth in clearings or recently burned land; hence the name of "Fireweed" by which it is most commonly known, a name which is also given to an entirely different plant (Erechtites hieracifolia), belonging to the great Composite Family.
A. Willow Herb; Fireweed.
B. Hairy Willow Herb.
The tall, upright stem is usually simple, but occasionally slightly branched at the top. It attains heights of from two to eight feet. The closely alternating leaves are long, lance-shaped, greatly resembling those of the Willow, from which fact it received its other common name, a name, by the way, that it is advisable to apply to this species as it will avoid confusion of conflicting names.
The flower spike is long; the flowers, blooming from the bottom, upwards, leave in their wake, numerous upright, long, slender pods. The four pink petals of each flower are very broad and rounded at the outer end, alternated with narrow brownish sepals; it has eight stamens and a prominent 4-parted pistil. They are apparently seated on the ends of the slender undeveloped pods.
The Great Willow Herb is abundant throughout our range in low ground, blooming during July and August.
Hairy Willow Herb (Epilobium Hirsutum) (European) has become naturalized and is fairly common in waste places and about old dwellings. It is branchy, hairy, has finely toothed, stemless leaves, and four-parted, magenta flowers growing from the angles of the upper leaves.
A. Evening Primrose.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera Biennis) is an exceedingly common biennial plant, so persistent and so profuse in its growth that it is often regarded as an obnoxious weed. Its common name was given it because of its nocturnal habits, the flowers spreading wide open at dusk and partly or wholly closing the next morning.
The stem is soft-hairy, quite stout and often very tall, ranging from 1 to 6 feet in height. It is usually simple, but sometimes branches, especially in the Fall. Both the stem and the leaves are rather coarse in texture; the latter are lanceolate, stemless and rough-edged or very slightly toothed. The flowers are seated in the angles of the upper leaves; they appear to be on stems, for the calyxtube is very long and slender, with the four lobes, or sepals, reflexed. The four, pale, lemon-yellow petals are large and rounded, the flower spreading slightly less than two inches; the eight stamens have golden-yellow anthers.
The lower buds open first, only a few at a time, so that usually we may find seed-pods seated among the leaves just below the flowers and undeveloped buds and leaves above. It is fertilized sometimes by bees in the daytime, but chiefly by night-flying moths. A large variety (grandiflora) is often cultivated and sometimes escapes. It is an European species with flowers measuring 3 or 4 inches across. The Primrose blooms in fields and roadsides, everywhere, from July to September.
Sun Drops (Oenothera Fructicosa) a somewhat similar, diurnal species, with a branched stem grows 1 to 3 feet high. The pale yellow flowers measure from ½ to 1 inch across; they are in loose terminal clusters or from the angles of the upper leaves. The leaves are linear-lanceolate, slightly toothed. Common from Me. to Minn, and southwards.