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Southern Beeblossom
southern beeblossum
Southern Beeblossom, photographed at Yamato Scrub Natural Area in Boca Raton.
southern beeblossum

Southern beeblossom, Oenothera simulans, is a late bloomer. Literally. Its flowers don't open up until evening, first white, then turning pink before they fade away the next day.

It's a fairly common plant found throughout the southeastern United States from North Carolina along the Atlantic to Mississippi on the Gulf Coast. It is a Florida native, found in all but two counties, both in the Panhandle. It's also native to the Bahamas.

It is a rather spindly plant, some call it weedy looking, tall and thin, growing to about three or four feet. Leaves along the stem are narrow and not very long. The flowers are formed along spikes called racemes, or at the end of branches. They bloom from February to November.

Habitat includes open woods, sandy fields, roadsides and dunes. Southern beeblossom is a member of Onagraceae, the evening primrose family. It is the host plant for larvae of the gaura sphinx moth and also the clouded crimson flower moth.

Native Americans have used plants related to southern beeblossom to treat various conditions, in ceremonies and as food. According to Florida Keys Wildflowers, Southern beeblossom has been used in folk medicine to treat pain and inflammation, but the book is unclear whether the "folk" were European settlers or Native Americans.

It is a cultivated plant, used by some gardeners to attract butterflies and bees, but others warn that caution that does self-seed and can become aggressive and weedy.

southern beeblossum

The United States Department of Agriculture uses Gaura angustifolia as the scientific name for Southern beeblossom, while the Delray Beach-based Institute for Regional Conservation uses O. simulans. In any case, it is the same plant, but it does illustrate .

Other names for southern beeblossom include southern gaura, southern butterfly weed, morning honeysickle.

The name gaura comes from the Greek word, gauros, meaning proud or superb, and refers to the lovely flowers that are typical of the genera.

Links for Southern Beeblossom
Institute for Regional Conservation Natives for Your Neighborhood Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants USDA PLANTS Database Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
  Flora of North America     Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.