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The generic name is derived from oinos (wine) and thera (a hunt), and is an old Greek name given by Theophrastus to some plant, probably an Epilobium, the roots of which were eaten to provoke a relish for wine, as olives are now; others say it dispelled the effects of wine.
The large, bright yellow, fragrant flowers are mostly fertilized by twilight-flying insects, especially in the early season. Later the plants keep 'open house' practically all day. In America it is considered a troublesome pest; in England it is not formidable.
The roots of the Evening Primrose are eaten in some countries in the spring, and the French often use it for garnishing salads.
---Cultivation---The Evening Primrose will thrive in almost any soil or situation, being perfectly hardy. It flourishes best in fairly good sandy soil and in a warm sunny position.
Sow the seeds an inch deep in a shady position out-doors in April, transplanting the seedlings when 1 inch high, 3 inches apart each way in sunny borders. Keep them free from weeds, and in September or the following March, transplant them again into the flowering positions. As the roots strike deep into the ground, care should be taken not to break them in removing.
Seeds may also be sown in cold frames in autumn for blooming the following year.
If the plants are once introduced and the seeds permitted to scatter, there will be a supply of plants without any special care.
---Parts Used---Bark and leaves. The bark is peeled from the flower-stems and dried in the same manner as the leaves, which are collected in the second year, when the flowerstalk has made its appearance.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Astringent and sedative. The drug extracted from this plant, though not in very general use, has been tested in various directions, and has been employed with success in the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders of a functional origin, asthma and whooping cough.
It has proved of service in dyspepsia, torpor of the liver, and in certain female complaints, such as pelvic fullness.
The dose ranges from 5 to 30 grains.
Henslow mentions another species, Cenothera odorata, which he states is found wild in the south of England, but only as a garden escape. It grows to 2 feet in height, with purplish stems and yellow flowers, 3 to 4 inches across. They are sweet-smelling, hence its specific name.
In The Treasury of Botany a large whiteflowered species is also mentioned, said to have run wild over some parts of the Nilghiri Hills in India.
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