Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pink evening primroses

with 33 comments


Pink evening primroses (Oenothera speciosa)
south of Smithville on March 5th.
Backlighting’s benefits betide.




And speaking of betide, did you know that worth used to be an English verb which meant ‘be, become, betide’? Wiktionary gives as an example: “Woe worth the man that crosses me,” meaning “May woe come to the man that crosses me.”

In another example, “Well worth thee, me friend,” a modern reader will likely think this is the unrelated worth that means ‘value’ and may misinterpret the sentence as if the friend had performed some worthy deed. In fact the actual meaning is “May good fortune befall you, my friend.”

This worth that English no longer finds worthy of retaining in its vocabulary (except in some dialects) is a cognate of the very-much-alive German verb werden. It’s also a cognate of the Latin verb vertere, which meant ‘to turn’ and by extension ‘to change,’ and which we find in borrowed words like convert, revert and vertex.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman 



Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 17, 2023 at 4:24 AM

33 Responses

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  1. This is one of those flowers that’s as pleasing individually as en masse. I am curious, though. Are you seeing large colonies of them? They seem quite scattered here, rather than covering the roadsides as they usually do. Perhaps it’s early for them, or my memory of when they appear isn’t accurate.


    March 17, 2023 at 6:50 AM

    • You asked the right question: no, I’ve seen only small groups of pink evening primroses so far. On our drive southward the other day I believe I passed at least one place where I’ve seen a large colony in other years but not now. I can’t tell whether it’s still early or whether this will be an off-year for them. Or maybe I just didn’t hit the right places.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 17, 2023 at 7:27 AM

  2. I really like the way the light is filtered through those beautiful, veined petals–nice shot!


    March 17, 2023 at 7:09 AM

    • Thank you. “Filtered” is a good word for what happens to the light. I’m fond of translucent subjects for which I can play up that effect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 17, 2023 at 7:55 AM

  3. Backlit beauty!

    Eliza Waters

    March 17, 2023 at 8:05 AM

  4. The species of this genus can be difficult to distinguish. I met one growing wild where I went to school in San Luis Obispo County, and now they all look the same to me.


    March 17, 2023 at 9:08 AM

    • This is the easy one to identify because its flowers are pink. All the other species here have yellow flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 17, 2023 at 9:18 AM

      • Oh, . . . well, ours are pink, with only one blooming yellow. Technically, they are supposedly white, but they are actually pink.


        March 18, 2023 at 12:47 AM

        • And our pink evening primroses are occasionally so pale as to seem white.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 18, 2023 at 7:14 AM

          • Are they unimpressively pale white? There are some here that get pale white, but I never bothered to investigate to determine if they were merely faded pink flowers, or to identify their species. White looks good in pictures. I have never observed them to be pretty here though.


            March 19, 2023 at 12:45 AM

  5. What a lovely portrait! The flowers seem to shine with their own internal light.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 17, 2023 at 11:04 AM

  6. I always learn something new here, too.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 17, 2023 at 11:05 AM

  7. Lovely photograph. The backlighting really does make this a special image.

    It’s interesting that in Florida, 16 species of Oenothera are listed but O. speciosa is the only one which is actually what I would consider “wine-colored”. Perhaps I just haven’t encountered bright yellow wines yet.

    Wally Jones

    March 17, 2023 at 11:45 AM

    • I’ve puzzled over that, too, as all the other Oenothera species in central Texas are also yellow. Maybe the wine the genus is named for was mead.

      As for backlighting, I keep returning to it. Some things don’t get old.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 17, 2023 at 7:22 PM

  8. The backlighting shows off the beauty of these flowers well.

    Ann Mackay

    March 17, 2023 at 12:16 PM

  9. What a beautiful photo Steve.


    March 17, 2023 at 3:58 PM

  10. The flowers are full of beauty. I tried to grow pink primroses once, but the spot I chose didn’t suit them. I might try again in another location.
    I also enjoyed learning about the connection between vertere, werden, and worth.


    March 17, 2023 at 10:05 PM

    • In checking the USDA map just now, I found pink evening primrose marked for (among other states) Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. Together those states make a big U around Colorado, which remains bereft of the species.

      Wiktionary offers this insight into German werden: “The use as a passive auxiliary is old and found throughout West Germanic, whereas the use as a future auxiliary is a Middle High German innovation. It originated in inchoative constructions with the present participle: er wirt lachende (“he starts laughing, is about to laugh, will laugh”). Since the 14th century, the participle was increasingly replaced with the infinitive, probably by analogy with the older future auxiliaries wollen (‘will’) and sollen (‘shall’). These latter were displaced by werden in Modern German, but survive dialectally.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2023 at 11:12 AM

      • Thank you for the additional information, Steve.
        I’m glad you were able to brush up on your West Germanic and Middle High German. 😊
        Our neighbors, who shared some of theirs, have had great success in growing pink evening primrose, but it might be a cultivar. I would still like to try it in our garden.


        March 18, 2023 at 4:11 PM

        • If you succeed with pink evening primroses, you’ll have to include a picture in one of your posts.

          I believe I’d wondered about werden being a future auxiliary, and now I know how that came to pass. Words are slippery things; it’s common for meanings to change, sometimes a lot.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 18, 2023 at 5:12 PM

  11. It’s a busy time for you! Lovely evening primrose. It was worthy to learn about the word worth.

    Alessandra Chaves

    March 17, 2023 at 10:19 PM

    • Things started (florally) exploding in central Texas a couple of weeks ago. Far be it from me not to run out (or rather drive out) and take advantage of all that wildflower bounty. I’ll hope my photos are worthy of it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2023 at 11:21 AM

  12. How beautiful! I love the lit from within light.


    March 19, 2023 at 11:17 AM

  13. Delightful! Top shot Steve …


    March 29, 2023 at 3:43 PM

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