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Oenothera deltoides

Oenothera deltoides Torr. & Frém.

 

Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderMyrtalesIncludes myrtles, leadwoods, loosestrifes, pomegranates, evening primroses, many others
FamilyOnagraceaeWillowherb/evening primrose family
GenusOenotheraDerivation uncertain: 1. Greek ονος θηρας (onos theras), or “donkey catcher.” 2. Or οινος θηρας (oinos theras), “wine seeker.” 3. Or Latin oenothera, “a plant whose juices may cause sleep”
SpeciesdeltoidesGreek for “triangular” (Greek letter delta, Δ) (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)

About plant names...

Desert primrose is native to the southwestern United States, and northern Mexico. It prefers sandy soils such as deserts and beaches.

Plants: Most of the colorful common names of this plant refer to odd shape it takes after it dies. The stems curl upward and form the “birdcage,” as shown below. Several leafy branches extend from the central stem, along the ground, from 4" (10 cm) to 3' (91 cm). It is these stems that dry and curl.

Leaves: Leaves are gray-green, forming a basal rosette. Leaves are deltoid, diamond-shaped, or oval, ¾-6" (2-15 cm) long and up to ¾" (1.9 cm), and often lobed, toothed, or grooved. (In several of the photos here, it is difficult to distinguish the leaves from those of surrounding plants.)

Flowers: Showy, fragrant white flowers that fade to pink as they age, ¾-1½" (2-4 cm) wide. Each flower has a yellow throat, 4 petals, 8 stamens, and a stigma with four wavy hair-like branches. The flowers bloom at night.

Fruits: ¾-2" (2-6 cm) round, usually curved pods, with seeds ¹/₃₂-¹/₁₆" (1.5-2 mm) in size.

Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

Branches surrounding the main stem lie on the ground, curling upward when the plant dies. Photo source unknown.

These are closely similar:

 

Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

5/3/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert, CA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert, CA
≈ 5 × 7" (12 × 18 cm)

Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

5/3/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 4 × 4½" (11 × 12 cm)

 
Oenothera californica
You are here
Oenothera deltoides
Common Name

California Evening Primrose

Desert Primrose
Plant Plant stems are erect or may spread horizontally, and 4-31" (10-80 cm) long. Most of the colorful common names of this plant refer to odd shape it takes after it dies. The stems curl upward and form the “birdcage,” as shown below. Several leafy branches extend from the central stem, along the ground, from 4" (10 cm) to 3' (91 cm). It is these stems that dry and curl.
Flowers Showy, white flowers ¾-1½" (2-4 cm) around, with four petals. Each flower has 8 stamens and an anther that splits in two at the tip. Older flowers take on a pinkish tinge. They have pleasant fragrance. They appear from March to June. Showy, fragrant white flowers that fade to pink as they age, ¾-1½" (2-4 cm) wide. Each flower has a yellow throat, 4 petals, 8 stamens, and a stigma with four wavy hair-like branches. The flowers bloom at night.
Leaves Young plants have a basal rosette of leaves. Older plants also have leaves along the stem. Leaves are lanceolate (lance-shaped), and ¾-6" (2-15 cm) long. Leaves are typically smaller than those of O. deltoides. Leaves are gray-green, forming a basal rosette. Leaves are deltoid, diamond-shaped, or oval, ¾-6" (2-15 cm) long and up to ¾" (1.9 cm), and often lobed, toothed, or grooved.
Fruit ¾-2" (2-6 cm) round, usually curved pods, with seeds ¹/₃₂-¹/₁₆" (1.5-2 mm) in size. ¾-2" (2-6 cm) round, usually curved pods, with seeds ¹/₃₂-¹/₁₆" (1.5-2 mm) in size.
Range/ Zones

Habitats Chaparral, dry plains, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and higher elevation deserts. Sandy soils such as deserts and beaches.
Type Wild Wild

 

Online References:

Oenothera deltoides at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Oenothera deltoides on Oceanlight.com, a natural history stock photography site by Phillip Colla

Oenothera deltoides on CalPhotos (Photos)

Oenothera deltoides at the Land Retirement Demonstration Project by the U.S. Department of the Interior (PDF)

Oenothera deltoides on Wikimedia Commons (Photos)

Oenothera deltoides from the Jepson Manual

Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

5/3/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert, CA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Oenothera deltoides description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 18 Aug 2019.

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Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert, CA
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Oenothera deltoides (Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Basket Evening Primrose, Lion in a Cage, Devil's Lantern)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert, CA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Range:

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