Where the yellow-brown sands of the glacial outwashes near the rivers blow in a fine sifting whenever a breeze is about, the hairy stalks of laciniate evening primrose stand up compactly. In a specialized environment they live successfully, manufacture food, blossom, make seeds, summer after summer as long as their chosen habitat of sand remains.
Oenothera laciniata Hill.
June - July Sandy fields.
A plant which lives in sand country must survive where many other plants, transplanted there, would perish miserably. Over the sands, sunshine is far more intense and hot, the light stronger, than it is in grasslands or in woods. The sand in summer is dry and becomes much hotter under a long day of sunshine than black soil or grass. Water filters quickly through sand, though it may remain far below the quickly drying surface. Winds are more violent across the unprotected sands and the unstable sand moves in a blur which batters the glass-hard grains against any plant standing there.
Consequently a plant which lives in sand country must be especially fitted to live there. It must have a deep root or traveling roots to provide stability and seek out water. It must be able to withstand the strong sun and dryness by having hairy leaves which frequently turn themselves vertically so that they do not. get the full force of the sun.
All these qualities are possessed by the little evening primrose which blooms in midsummer. The flowers open in late afternoon and are fertilized by small, pale, night-flying moths which are attracted to the pale yellow flowers. These have four petals above a long tube; eighl stamens, and a four-parted, cross-shaped pistil. The leaves are hairy, rough, and deeply laciniate or toothed.