Young shoots - raw or cooked. Mucilaginous, with a peppery flavour, they are best used sparingly. Another source suggests that the shoots should not be eaten. Flowers - sweet. Used in salads or as a garnish. Young seedpods - cooked. Steamed.The seed contains 28% of a drying oil. It is edible and a very good source of gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is not found in many plant sources and has numerous vital functions in the body. The seed, however, is very small and difficult to harvest, it has to be done by hand. Overall yields are low, making the oil very expensive to produce.
A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers.A finely ground powder made from the flowering stems is used cosmetically in face-masks to counteract reddened skins.
Evening primrose oil has become a well-known food supplement since the 1980's. Research suggests that the oil is potentially very valuable in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, pre-menstrual tension, hyperactivity etc. It is also taken internally in the treatment of eczema, acne, brittle nails, rheumatoid arthritis and alcohol-related liver damage. Regular consumption of the oil helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the blood pressure. The seed is a good source of gamma-linolenic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid which assists the production of hormone-like substances. This process is commonly blocked in the body, causing disorders that affect the uterine muscles, nervous system and metabolism. The poulticed root is applied to piles and bruises.A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of obesity and bowel pains.
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Formerly cultivated for its edible roots, the evening primrose is being increasingly cultivated for the oil contained in its seed which contains certain essential fatty acids and is a very valuable addition to the diet. See the notes on medicinal uses for more details. The flowers open in the evening and are strongly scented with a delicious sweet perfume, attracting pollinating moths. The seeds are a good food source for birds.Plants usually self-sow freely if they are growing in a suitable position, they can naturalize in the wild garden[4, K].
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