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Genus Oenothera Family Onagraceae

Synonyms: Gaura APNI*

Description: Annual or perennial herbs or subshrubs, sometimes stem reduced.

Leaves basal or alternate, often attenuate at the base, and reducing in size up stem, margins often undulate and ± entire to pinnatifid.

Flowers solitary in the upper bract-like leaf axils or in spike-like racemes; often conspicuous, usually opening in the evening and fading the next morning; actinomorphic, 4-merous. Hypanthium usually long and slender, not persistent. Sepals not persistent. Petals usually yellow, pink or white, often becoming reddish with age.

Fruit a capsule; seeds numerous.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 120 species, America. Australia: 13 species (naturalized), all States.

**O. triloba is doubtfully recorded as naturalized in N.S.W.; however, the record is not substantiated. One record only from near Inverell, in 1941.

Text by J. M. Dalby
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Oenothera biennis,    Oenothera curtiflora,    Oenothera lindheimeri

 Key to the species 
1Capsules distinctly clavate, the narrow basal part sterile; flowers pink or white2
Capsules cylindrical to ovoid, fertile to the base; flowers yellow or white4
2Petals 20–35 mm long3
Petals c. 10 mm long
                       Back to 1
Oenothera rosea
3Stems with long spreading hairsOenothera tetraptera
Stems without long spreading hairs
                       Back to 2
Oenothera speciosa
4Capsules ovoid with 4 broad wingsOenothera triloba
Capsules more or less cylindrical, without wings
                       Back to 1
5
5Hypanthium 7 cm or more long6
Hypanthium less than 7 cm long
                       Back to 4
7
6Cauline leaves ovate to elliptic; leaves subtending the fruit shorter than the capsulesOenothera longiflora
Leaves narrow-lanceolate; leaves subtending the fruit longer than the capsules
                       Back to 5
Oenothera affinis
7Stems with some hairs dark red at base, stems appear red-spotted; flowers in a spikeOenothera glazioviana
Stems with hairs not dark red at base, stems not appearing red-spotted; flowers solitary in upper leaf axils
                       Back to 5
8
8Cauline leaves sinuate-pinnatifidOenothera laciniata
Cauline leaves sparsely toothed
                       Back to 7
9
9Plants hairy10
Plants glabrous or sparsely hairy
                       Back to 8
11
10Plants with coarse, moderately stiff hairs; cauline leaves obovate to oblanceolate, tapering to the baseOenothera drummondii
Plants with fine, soft hairs; cauline leaves narrow-lanceolate to elliptic, sessile
                       Back to 9
Oenothera mollissima
11Hypanthium less than 2 cm long, petals less than 1.2 cm long; basal leaves usually less than 8 cm long, rosette often not persistentOenothera indecora
Hypanthium more than 2 cm long, petals more than 1.2 cm long; basal leaves mostly more than 8 cm long, rosette always present
                       Back to 9
Oenothera stricta

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