Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis, and How To Use It.

Written by Nicky Westwood – Herb Society Trustee

Evening Primrose is well known for its medicinal properties, and most women will associate it with PMT, breast pain, and other women’s problems. However, it has many uses, and is particularly helpful with skin conditions, such as eczema. 

But did you know that the whole plant is edible?  Something to bear in mind if you have a ready supply near you. 

The early leaves (April to June) can be cooked and eaten as greens.

 The flowering stems are preferably used when they are still young in June. They have to be peeled and can then be eaten raw or fried.  

The flowers are particularly sweet and make a great addition to salads, or as a garnish. They can be harvested from June to September.

When the fruits are still green (August and September) they can be prepared in the same way as the flowering stems

The young seedpods can be served steamed, and the seeds can be used as a substitute for poppy or sesame seeds on baked foods. 

 The roots are sweet, peppery, and delicious and can be eaten raw, diced into a salad. They can also be boiled – tasty way to eat the roots is parboiling them with potatoes, and cooking them up with cream and cheese in a gratin.  


Evening Primrose has a very short flowering life in Jersey (where I live); they grow wild on the dunes that encompass St Ouen’s Bay in the west of the island. Since there isn’t a surfeit of and the bulk of it grows on a nature reserve, I think my chances of ever tasting it are slim. However, do forage away if you can! My main pleasure is seeing the bright yellow flowers out, brightening up their environment. 


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