Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Small Sundrops - Oenothera perennis   L.
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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DistributionPresent over most of the Mountains, though possibly absent from a few in the far southwest. Present at a few western Piedmont sites, and also a record for the northern Coastal Plain (Hertford County).

This is a Northern species, occurring from eastern Canada south to NJ, PA, and WI, southward mostly in the Mountains to western NC and central AL.
AbundanceRare in the Mountains, and very rare in the western Piedmont. Casual (formerly?) in the northern Coastal Plain. This is a Special Concern species.
HabitatThis is a species of bogs, wet glades, seepages, wet meadows, and a few other uncommon types of mostly montane wetlands. It is not a species of marshes and other places with tall vegetation.
PhenologyBlooms from May to August, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a quite slender and small Oenothera, usually with an unbranched stem and ranging upwards to only about 1 foot tall. The few alternate leaves are narrowly elliptic to oblanceolate, about 2-3 inches long but only 1/4-inch wide. The inflorescence is at first nodding, but then becoming erect in flower, a cluster of flowers at the uppermost leaf axils. The 4 yellow petals are only about 1/4-inch long, with a notch at the tip so that from the front it looks like it has 8 lobes, as in other species. It is possible to stumble onto it in the mountains, but as there are only about 20-25 known records, you will more than likely need to know where to look for it. Other species are much taller (i.e., O. parviflora) or especially have much larger flowers, and thus this species should not present too much difficulty in identification.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Little Sundrops, Small Evening-primrose, Little Evening-primrose
State RankS2
Global RankG5
State StatusSC-V
US Status
USACE-agcpFAC link
USACE-empFAC link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorrieMacon County, 2021, roadside US 64. MaconPhoto_natural
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