Clavate Fruited Primrose

Common Names:
Brown-Eyed Primrose, Browneyes, Clavate Fruited Primrose
Scientific name:
Chylismia claviformis
Subspecies | Variants:
Chylismia claviformis ssp. aurantiaca, Chylismia claviformis ssp. claviformis, Chylismia claviformis ssp. cruciformis, Chylismia claviformis ssp. funerea, Chylismia claviformis ssp. integrior, Chylismia claviformis ssp. lancifolia, Chylismia claviformis ssp. peirsonii, Chylismia claviformis ssp. yumae
Camissonia claviformis, Oenothera claviformis
Elevation range:
-200 - 9500 ft
Flowering Months:
February, March, April, May
Height | Length:
4-24 in.
Life Cycle | Lifeform:
Food for insects & larvae
State Occurrences:
Desert region:
Mojave, Sonoran

Food plant for White-Lined Sphinx moth.

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Clavate Fruited Primrose in the desert

Chylismia claviformis is a rather tall annual with white or pale yellow petals that fade to pink as they wither. The flower head is often nodding and rises from a reddish stem. The plant is most readily identified by the maroon or brown color deep inside the corolla. Borrego Valley, CA | March 2011   

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Clavate Fruited Primrose in the desert

Identification of Chylismia species can be very difficult. There are many subspecies and they readily hybridize. Their long green leaves can shrivel in order to provide sustenance to the flower and resulting seeds, which may be the reason for the small reddish leaves shown here. Anza Borrego Desert State Park | March 2011   

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Clavate Fruited Primrose in the desert

Chylismia claviformis in its pale yellow coloring. Good view of fruit along the tall stem. The White-Lined Sphinx Moth larvae prey heavily on members of the Primrose family, such as this one. The adult moth also obtains nectar from the flowers, indicating this family's importance to certain insect species. Borrego Valley, CA | March 31, 2010  

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Clavate Fruited Primrose in the desert

Chylismia claviformis flowers after a rainstorm. Ascending fruit is visible at right. This plant is ubiquitous, occurring in all deserts at just about any elevation. It produces heavy pollen that covers your shoes if you walk through areas where it blankets the landscape.  Borrego Valley, CA | March 2010