Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family)
A very large family represented here by annual or perennial herbs. Ovaries are inferior. The stigmas of Camissonia and Gayophytum are round, whereas those of Epilobium and Oenothera are four-parted, forming a cross. There are four petals and four sepals.
Camissonia boothii(Douglas) Raven ssp.desertorum(Munz) Raven. (Plate 6.126) Woody Bottle Washer.(Oenothera decorticans var. desertorum) A white-stemmed, slender-branching annual, usually less than 14 in (3.5 dm) high. Leaves in a tuft at the base are broadly elliptic, up to 3 1/8 in (8 cm) long, on slender petioles about half the length of the blade. These lower leaves may dry before the blooms appear. Those above are smaller and gradually reduced upward. Flowers are in terminal clusters, nodding in bud but becoming erect in bloom. Petals are about 1/4 in (6 mm) long. The slender capsule, below the petals, twists as it matures, commonly until the tip is turned downward. After the seeds are shed, the persistent fibers of the capsule have the appearance of a bottle washer. Flower: White, aging pink.
Distribution. Dry, open slopes and washes; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 4,000–8,000 ft (1,220–2,439 m).
Note: The species boothii is so variable that some plants may be difficult to place in a described subspecies.
Ssp.intermediaMunz. Hairy Primrose. Similar to ssp. desertorum, but the foliage is densely coated with soft, fine, white hairs. Stems vary from 2 to 12 in (5 to 30 cm) tall. Basal leaves are well developed, and all the others are very small. Flower: White, aging pink.
Distribution. Uncommon; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 5,000–7,000 ft (1,524–2,134 m).
Ssp.inyoensisMunz. Inyo Primrose. A dainty form of the species, 6–12 in (15–30 cm) high. Basal leaves are elliptic, the blades mostly about 1 in (2.5 cm) long. Branches are very slender, and flowers are well spaced on the threadlike stems. Petals are about 1/8 in (3 mm) long. Flower: Pinkish, aging deep pink.
Distribution. Common in the Inyo Mountains; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, up to 7,000 ft (2,134 m).
Camissonia chamaenerioides(Gray) Raven. Modest Primrose.(Oenothera chamaenerioides Gray) A slender, erect annual, 4–20 in (1–5 dm) tall. A basal tuft of small, ovate leaves may be present when the plant is young but usually withers before maturity. Other leaves are elliptic, commonly sparse and much reduced. Flowers are minute, the petals about 1/8 in (3 mm) long, but the very slender capsule is 1 1/2–2 in (4–5 cm) long. When mature the plant seems all capsules angling upward. Flower: White, aging reddish.
Distribution. Limited, on granitic or volcanic soils; Desert Scrub, below 6,500 ft (1,982 m).
Camissonia claviformis(Torr. & Fremont) Raven ssp.claviformis. Brown-eyed Primrose.(Oenothera claviformis Torr. & Fremont) (Plate 6.127) An annual, 4–20 in (1–5 dm) high, with leaves mostly in a basal rosette. These may have small, irregular leaflets below a well-developed terminal leaflet that may be up to 2 1/2 in (6.5 cm) long, narrowly ovate, and irregularly toothed. Some lesser leaves occur on the stems. The foliage is highly variable. Tightly clustered buds nod until the flowers open. Then the fruiting stems gradually become spikelike with ascending capsules. The flowers, with petals about 1/4 in (6 mm) long, open in late afternoon. Capsules are mostly about 3/4 in (2 cm) long and club-shaped on slender pedicels 1/2 in (13 mm) long. Flower: White, aging purplish.
Distribution. Locally in the Inyo Mountains and the southern part of the White Mountains; Desert Scrub, from the valley floor up to 5,000 ft (1,524 m).
Ssp.integrior(Raven) Raven. Northern Evening Primrose. Similar to ssp. claviformis, but the leaves are nearly simple and slightly gray-hairy. Flower: White, aging purplish.
Distribution. North of the range of ssp. claviformis; especially on volcanic tuff and cinder slopes; Desert Scrub, up to 6,500 ft (1,982 m).
Camissonia pterosperma(Watson) Raven. Pigmy Primrose. (Oenothera pterosperma Watson) A small, hairy annual, 1–4 in (2.5–10 cm) high. Leaves are linear or narrowly obovate, seldom more than 1/2 in (13 mm) long. Flowers open in the morning. Petals are minute, hardly more than 1/16 in (2 mm) long, but the capsules are well developed, much like those of C. claviformis, 1/2–3/4 in (13–20 mm) long. Flower: Petals white with a yellow band near the base.
Distribution. Apparently not as rare as reported, but may appear only in climatically favorable years; dry places; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 4,500–9,000 ft (1,372–2,744 m).
Camissonia refracta(Watson) Raven. Narrow-leaved Primrose. (Oenothera refracta Watson) A dainty-flowered annual with slender stems, usually branching from near the base. Stems have a reddish, shining coat that readily splits and peels. Leaves are linear or narrowly oblong, mostly shallowly toothed, 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) long. They are well distributed, and the plant lacks a basal tuft. A characteristic of this species is its comparatively large, lanceolate sepals, turned downward, nearly as long as the 3/16 in (5 mm) petals. The ball-shaped stigma protrudes just beyond the petals. Flowers open in the evening. Capsules are very slender, 1 1/4–2 in (3–5 cm) long, spreading outward. Flower: White, aging pink.
Distribution. Common in canyons of the Inyo Mountains; below Desert Scrub, 5,500 ft (1,677 m).
Camissonia walkeri(A. Nels.) Raven ssp.tortilis(Jepson) Raven. Rock or Limestone Primrose. (Oenothera multijuga Watson var. parviflora [Watson] Munz) An erect annual or short-lived perennial, 4–30 in (1–7.5 dm) tall. The stems are nearly leafless, with a well-developed basal rosette. Leaves are divided, having a large terminal, ovate leaflet, 3/4–2 in (2–5 cm) long, and are dull green with purple dots. Flowers are very small, the petals about 1/4 in (6 mm) long. The linear capsules, 1–1 1/2 in (2.5–4 cm) long, are on slender pedicels about half their length, spreading at right angles from the stem. Flower: Yellow.
Distribution. Locally in rocky places, mostly near limestone cliffs; Desert Scrub, up to 6,000 ft (1,829 m).
Epilobium angustifoliumL. ssp. circumvagumMosquin. Fireweed. (Plate 6.128) An erect perennial with leafy stems, mostly 2–4 ft (6–12 dm) tall. Leaves are lanceolate, 3–6 in (8–15 cm) long and 3/4–1 in (2–2.5 cm) wide. Flowers are in
showy racemes on the upper portion of the plant. Sepals are lanceolate, 3/8 in (1 cm) long, and the spreading petals about 1/2 in (13 mm) long, both four-parted and above the inferior ovary. Capsules are linear, 2–3 1/2 in (5–9 cm) long, and conspicuously spreading out from the stem. As they split open, they expose an abundance of silky hairs attached to the upper ends of the seeds. The comose seeds are a characteristic of the epilobiums and are carried by the slightest breeze. Flower: Lilac-purple, rarely pink or white. Sepals, too, are colored purple or red.
Distribution. Cool, moist places; mostly in the White Mountains; Pinyon-juniper Woodland and Subalpine Zone, 7,000–11,500 ft (2,134–3,506 m).
Epilobium ciliatumRaf. ssp. ciliatum.Slender Epilobium. (Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. var. parishii [Trel.] Munz) (Epilobium brevistylum Barbey) An erect perennial with slender, sometimes branching, leafy stems, 8–40 in (2–10 dm) tall. Leaves are willowlike, mostly opposite, 1–3 in (2.5–8 cm) long, reduced upward. The plant is also called "Willow Herb." The small flowers are terminal and at the upper leaf nodes. The petals, notched at the apex, are up to 1/4 in (6 mm) long, situated over an inferior ovary that matures 1 1/2–2 1/2 in (4–6.5 cm) long. Each seed carries a tuft of white, silky hairs. Flower: White, pink, or purplish.
Distribution. Wet places, mostly streamside; Desert Scrub to Subalpine Zone, 3,500–10,000 ft (1,067–3,049 m). Other, similar species occur in the range.
Gayophytum diffusumTorr. & Gray ssp.parviflorumLewis & Szweykowski. Summer Snowflakes. A slender, upward-branching, sparsely leafy annual, 4–20 in (1–5 dm) tall. The stems may be tinged red or purplish throughout. Leaves are narrowly linear, 1/2–1 1/4 in (1.3–3 cm) long. Flowers are terminal on the delicate branchlets, well distributed on the plant. Petals are hardly 1/8 in (6 mm) long, usually showing obviously staggered seeds. Flower: White, drying pink.
Distribution. Common to abundant on dry slopes and flats; Pinyon-juniper Woodland and Subalpine Zone, 7,500–10,500 ft (2,287–3,201 m).
Gayophytum ramosissimumTorr. & Gray. Pinyon Gayophytum. An annual, lower than G. diffusum, 3–8 in (8–20 cm) high, with very fine, spreading branches. Leaves are narrowly linear, less than 1 in (2.5 cm) long. Flowers are minute, about 1/16 in (3 mm) long. The capsules are 1/4 in (6 mm) long on very fine stems of equal length. Flower: White, drying pink.
Distribution. Common on dry slopes and flats; Desert Scrub to Subalpine Zone, 4,500–10,500 ft (1,372–3,201 m).
Oenothera caespitosaNutt. ssp. crinita(Rydb.) Munz. Limestone Evening Primrose. (Plate 6.129) A densely hairy perennial with leaves tufted on branches of a thick root crown. Stems are lacking. Leaves are grayish with soft, long hairs, ovate with wavy, some with toothed edges. Blades are 1/2–1 in (13–25 mm) long on
petioles of about the same length. Stemlike flower tubes, up to 2 in (5 cm) long, rise above the leaves from the inferior ovaries below. Calyx lobes (sepals) are lanceolate, about 3/4 in (2 cm) long, turned downward. Petals are broad, 3/4–1 in (2–2.5 cm) long. The flowers, which open in the evening, are attractive and fragrant. Flower: White or faintly pink, aging pink.
Distribution. Limited; limestone areas in the Inyo Mountains; Pinyon-juniper Woodland and Subalpine Zone, 8,000–10,200 ft (2,439–3,110 m).
Oenothera caespitosaNutt. ssp. marginata(Nutt.) Munz. Large White Evening Primrose. (Oenothera caespitosa Nutt. var. longiflora [Heller] Munz) (Plate 6.130) A robust form of O. caespitosa . Leaves are green, linear lanceolate, irregularly toothed, and 1 1/2–6 in (4–15 cm) long, including the petiole. Flower tubes from the ovary at the base are 3–7 in (8–18 cm) long. Flowers are fragrant and open in the evening. Sepals are 1–1 1/2 in (2.5–4 cm) long, and the broad petals 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) long. Flower: White, aging pink.
Distribution. Relatively common in open places of roadsides and wash borders; Desert Scrub to Subalpine Zone, 4,500–10,300 ft (1,372–3,140 m).
Oenothera hookeriTorr. & Gray ssp.angustifolia(Gates) Munz. Tall Yellow Evening Primrose. A biennial with erect, leafy stems, 12–48 in (0.3–1.3 m) tall. Leaves are willowlike, the blades 1/2–6 in (1.3–15 cm) long. The inflorescence is on the upper portion of the plant, the inferior ovaries hugging the stem. From them issue the slender flower tubes, 1/2–2 in (13–50 mm) long. The reflexed, linear sepals are about 1 in (2.5 cm) long and the broad petals slightly longer. The tall stalks of flowers are in decided contrast to other oenotheras or Evening Primroses in the region. Flower: Yellow, aging orange-red or pinkish.
Distribution. Moist or wet places; mostly in the White Mountains; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland 4,000–8,500 ft (1,220–2,591 m).