Oenothera and Gaura

Steve Levine 73631.532 at CompuServe.COM
Sat Aug 19 20:28:17 EST 1995

Over the past two or three years, I spread wild seeds in the fall 
all around my yard, and this year, I'm surprised to see 
EVERYTHING is coming up.  I have been weeding out all but three 
or four specimens of the commonest plants, to make room for the 
less common.  One of these overly abundant plants is Oenothera 
biennis - Common evening-primrose.  At least I thought it was all 
Oenothera until yesterday, when one of them bloomed as Gaura 
biennis.  Well, I'm taking some pride in being able to identify 
plants almost from the moment they pop out of the ground, so I'm 
surprised that plants of two different genera can look identical 
prior to blooming.  They're both over nine feet tall back there, 
the leaves and stems are seemingly identical in size, shape, 
color.  Perhaps a bit more pubescence on the gaura than the 
evening-primrose.  Is this the most reliable pre-bloom 
difference?  I'll have to weed the Oenothera each year, but I 
don't want to eliminate my new gaura in doing so.  Since they're 
both biennials, and grow in close quarters, I can't rely on 

At one point, I had a similar situation with Scrophulara 
marilandica (many plants) and Agastache nepetoides (one plant).  
The only difference here is that the latter has unusually 
segmented stems.  Other than that, identical, and yet two 
different families.

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