Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Cutleaf Evening-primrose - Oenothera laciniata   Hill
Members of Onagraceae:
Members of Oenothera with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Myrtales » Family Onagraceae
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AuthorHill
DistributionThroughout the Coastal Plain and Piedmont; in the Mountains, present in the southern half but apparently absent in the northern half.

This is a very widespread species across most of the U.S., ranging from ME and ND south to the Gulf Coast.
AbundanceVery common in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont; fairly common in part of the southern Mountains, but very rare to absent north of Madison and Buncombe counties. Arguably the most numerous Oenothera in the state, about matching O. biennis and O. fruticosa in being seen almost daily if outdoors.
HabitatThis species has habitats that make it appear to be an exotic species, though it is native in the eastern U.S. It grows in cultivated fields, roadsides, fallow fields, vacant lots, and other rather dry and poorly vegetated sites, almost always disturbed.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional Fields and Forblands
PhenologyBlooms from March to July, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a very familiar weed, seen just about anytime you walk around the edges of cultivated fields or other waste ground. It is a sprawling plant, decumbent to leaning, but has somewhat erect flowering branches; the plant may reach 2-2.5 feet long. It has several branches at the base, and if several plants grow in close proximity, a tangle of plants develops. The alternate leaves are strongly dissected into numerous lobes (or large teeth), each leaf averaging about 2 inches long and 2/3-inch wide, often rather light green in color. This species has flowers from the upper (outer) axils, with a long floral tube, and 4 pale yellow to medium yellow petals, notched at the apex, and about 1/2-inch long. As with most others in the genus, from the front the flower appears to have 8 lobes. There are no similar or confusing species.
Taxonomic CommentsRAB (1968) listed two varieties, but Weakley (2018) has them split into separate species, but with O. grandiflora considered to be exotic in the state.

Other Common Name(s)Ragged Evening-primrose
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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