Ventured out to take not-quite-the-first picture of Oenothera caespitosa. Tried the “night portrait” setting on the Coolpix, but the dog was excessively interested in the idea of taking pictures at twilight, so they all came out blurry.
Had to resort to the flash, with the dog inside busy with a chew stick so he wouldn’t see what was going on (the flash looks like lightning to a border collie). The flowers open at sundown, and wither to pink by the next morning (one visible at lower left), unless the morning is overcast. Scented of lemon, the flowers are pollinated by hawkmoths, one of which, Manduca quinquemaculata, is the tomato worm. (My wife never allowed me to dispatch tomato worms…something I don’t do anyway….because the moths are so elegant. Much larger than the typical sphinxmoth, Hyles lineata, they can be mistaken for small birds flying at night.)
While I was trying to hold the camera still, there was what I thought was an overly loud rustling in the little brush pile off to the left, which disturbed me a little.
According to the monograph on this species, published by Missouri Botanical Garden, five subspecies are recognized. I figure this is subspecies caespitosa, though I have grown all of them at one time or another, courtesy of the late Jim Archibald’s seed catalog. My favorite was the extra-tiny subsp. crinita, which met its end in the garden here when I thought it was a good idea to dig it up and move it somewhere else.
Seed dispersal is done by ants, a process called myrmecochory (as with snowdrops, cyclamen, crocus, etc.), and also by rodents. I have plenty of ants, and more than plenty of rodents. Apparently mice eat the seedpods, which is less than desirable, since self-sown plants get their roots right the first time, which isn’t always true with plants grown in pots. But you have to start somewhere.