Wednesday's Wildflower: Southern Beeblossom, Oenothera simulans

Submitted by Jean Evoy, a 30-year veteran of FNPS. She has been active in several chapters including Miami-Dade, Serenoa, and Mangrove.
Southern Bee Blossom flower, photo by Jean Evoy

Southern Beeblossom is a common wildflower of roadsides, fields, dunes and open woods in Florida.  It used to be called Gaura angustifolia, but a few years ago the evening primrose family underwent extensive revisions and G. angustifolia, was renamed Oenothera simulans along with several other species of that were included in the genus Gaura.

Crimson moth larva, J Evoy
Southern Beeblossom has slender, branched, hairy stems that may reach six feet. The leaves are reduced on the upper parts of the plant and tiny flowers are found near the ends of wand-like stems. The flowers are white when they open in the evening.  They become pinkish the following day before withering. As the name beeblossom indicates, the flowers are attractive to many insects, including bees, butterflies and moths. 

A slender stem, photo by Jean Evoy

If you look very closely you can see six to eight long-stemmed stamens growing out from the center of each tiny flower and a long pistil with four wing-like tips.  The fuzzy reddish buds at  the top of the plant will soon open, and, with luck, the hairy nutlike fruits may soon attract the hungry larva of the clouded crimson moth, Schinia gaurae. These attractive caterpillars develop into beautiful pink flower moths.You can see some striking examples on BugGuide

I have not been lucky enough to see an adult crimson moth, yet, but any time I see a patch of beeblossom flowers, I will be looking, hopefully, with my camera in hand.  


Other Links:
USF Plant Atlas, Onenothera simulans
Wild South Florida Blog: Southern Beeblossom


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