Field Guide

Evening Primrose

Also known as the Desert Primrose, Birdcage Evening Primrose, Devil's Lantern, Lion-in-a-Cage, and Basket Evening Primrose, these flowers open in the early evening and close in mid-morning.

On a tombstone, the evening primrose represents eternal love, memory, youth, hope, and sadness. Its pharmacological uses are encyclopedic. It has been used topically as an ingredient in anti-wrinkle cream, and as an anti-inflammatory to treat conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Its seeds have been ground and their oil extracted to make potions to treat migraines, asthma, and arthritis. The Swiss believed that primroses relieved vertigo, and mountaineers carried them during their ascents.

Taken from Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written and photographed by Douglas Keister, published by Gibbs Smith, Salt Lake City, 2004.