why do people hate evening primrose???

brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)April 20, 2014

I just bought this recently (pic is from Google, mine is just starting to bloom). This is the info on the ID tag:

Glowing Magenta Evening Primrose / Onagra Glowing Magenta / Oenothera kunthiana

And here's a pic (also from Google) of what I bought a few years ago called Pink Evening Primerose. I don't have ID tag:

I've been reading a few posts about how horrible evening primerose (EP) is because of how invasive they are. I know that the pink one I had did reseed my entire front garden. And that even tho the original plant is long gone and I even dug up and tilled one entire section (was 'remodling'...lol)...it still came back. But I didn't see anything wrong with that. I thought it was very pretty.

I didn't find the roots on the plants to be very deep, therefore I didn't feel they choked out other plants like others have complained about.

However, I noticed the leaves on the Magenta one I just bought are different than the pink ones are so wonder if maybe they have different growing habits. I recall one post about one type of EP having runners....??? I never saw runners on my pink one.

So question #1 is ~ why do (some) people hate this plant? What is all the fuss about? Mine came into bloom pretty early in the season so it was nice to have lots of flowers in a somewhat empty garden. But people talk about them like it's bamboo. Am I missing something here???

And question #2 - will my new Magenta EP reseed like the pink one did....or does it propagate differently? I just don't want to leave the plant planted if I am in for some sort of nightmare.

And lastly, anyone grow the Magenta EP and what do you think of it? Any tips for growing it?

Thanks !

This post was edited by brit5467 on Sun, Apr 20, 14 at 21:56

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I don't hate primroses. I have 3 varieties. I don't grow the pink but I grow the yellows. (The dreaded color bright YELLOW!!!!) I've always know this plant as Mexican Evening Primrose, it is only difficult if you decide you no longer want it because it has very brittle roots that break, each piece of root makes a new plant. I once tried to get it out of a rock path since that wasn't a good choice for that plant in that spot, but it wasn't invasive in my dry dirt. I had to take out all the big rocks to get the roots. Its a great plant to fill in a dry median as a ground cover. It grows wild along roadsides here, a very pretty native plant.

I think some people like complete control or are neat-nicks going for that manicured look. Certain plants defy this kind of mindset, that doesn't mean they are invasive. This plant is not an invasive. Robust, yes but that's what makes it useful. The word "invasive" is misused often, it seems to be describing a personal opinion rather than a true statement. I like natural myself so I let plants do their thing.

I also like bright yellow but recently heard many people don't, so there ya go. Enjoy your pink primroses. I'll enjoy my yellow ones which, by the way, one variety just started blooming. Its the silver leaf type with the huge yellow flowers, that are an unknown type, I "stole" a seedpod (ie, I took a fluttermill -- love that name) so its unknown to me except for being way cool. Silver + bright yellow. Love it.

Running bamboo. Now them there's fightin words. I think anyone planting it should have to file for a license insuring responsibility for proper containment. Any miscreant who recklessly allows this invasive plant to escape onto another persons property or into the wild should be fined heavily & incur all costs for damages done. These plants should come with such a warning or just not be sold at all. This plant is invasive by the true definition of the word.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Sun, Apr 20, 14 at 23:47

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 11:28PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

That's another one I don't get. What's wrong with bright yellow? It reminds me of the sun, it's cheery, and was my favorite color when I was a little girl....lol. Maybe because so many flowers ARE yellow, it's too 'commonplace' for some folks? hahaha

I'm with you on the word invasive being misused. Kudzu is invasive. Bamboo is invasive. The "vine from hell" that I curse every year is invasive. But I don't feel that a plant that propagates from seeds floating in the wind is invasive....lol. JMHO.

And I'm also with you on liking the natural look. The less planned-looking, the better. I guess they call my taste 'cottage garden'. But I don't have a whole lot of plants yet. So I hate that I have to put down mulch because I think it makes it look too manicured.

This year, I 'stole' bags of pine needles from the side of the road that had been set out for the trash. I've only got it down in the part of the garden that I've weeded but so far I like the look of it better than wood chunks....lol.

I'd love to see some pics of your yellow ones....especially the silver and yellow one !! I had a plant (it died) that I never knew the name of. Someone dug it up from an abandoned house and gave it to me. It also had silver foliage (kinda fuzzy, like lamb's ear) but had deep magenta flowers. I will see if I have a pic. Maybe it was EP also?

Oh, and good to know about the Mexican kind. I will check to see if it grows well in my zone because my mom wants something for groundcover in an area where there is nothing else (so it wouldn't matter how wild it got).


    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 11:52PM
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The pink/silver plant you describe sounds like Rose Campion? Is it?

Oh no no nooooo! Don't tell me you are describing plants that have the audacity to self propagate themselves with seedlings! That means you'll run the risk of having to pull any that dares to drop in a spot you don't want it in. Thats extra work!

Getting real here, my whole property is self propagating but naturalized native sounds better, more impressive. its low maintenance & all that rubbish.

I'll try to take a picture of the silver primrose. Actually its in a picture I posted (but not in bloom) on the thread about the color yellow down close to the bottom of the thread. Its planted by a liatris, another plant that insists on propagating itself by seed here. I got the primrose seed pod from a native plants landscape at a local museum. There were a lot of locally native plants & grasses growing there, the guy who worked there called them "the weeds". It looked like a great garden to me but then I'm the type who always stores baggies in the car cubby hole to be ready to bag-n-label any interesting seed I run across in late summer & fall.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 1:08AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

"The word "invasive" is misused often, it seems to be describing a personal opinion rather than a true statement. "

I totally agree with that statement, TexasRanger10. Some people appear to want their gardening to be like interior design. You put a chair in a position and it sits there looking exactly the same, never changing, never moving. To me gardening is about things growing and changing, not being static. Just because a plant spreads a bit or self seeds somewhat it isn't invasive. That term is reserved for things like Japanese knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Rhododendron ponticum. Alien (in the UK) plants which spread far and wide, pushing out native species over large areas. Many plants are vigorous, even rampant, but it doesn't make them invasive.

This post was edited by floral_uk on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 5:48

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:54AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i didnt know they come in colors.. other than yellow ..

and that might tell you.. that they lose fertility.. as the hybridizers take them further from their natural color ...

that is to say.. they might be either sterile or near sterile.. so they wouldnt produce and abundance of seed...

just a guess ...

i had a few over the years in my MI ..... never saw a seedling ... and dont recall them coming back religiously [meaning i dont know whatever happened to them.. lol] ... so they must not favor winter .. meaning.. one mans invasive reseeder.. might not be everyones ...


    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:04AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Texas...u r right. It WAS Rose Champion. I recognized the name as soon as you said it! Funny thing was, I googled to see what plant family it was in and guess what I ran across? My old post on GW from 2010, when I was still pretty much a newbie....lol. Made me sad because I saw how pretty it used to be (gone to plant heaven now).

Floral...I totally agree with you on all counts !!

Ken....I wish I could find the post I had referred to, about how "invasive" it is. Someone from Texas was asking what the name of a particular yellow one was. Must be very prevalent in TX...lol.

And then others joined in, talking about the pink ones. So after reading your post, I'm inclined to think that maybe it's the yellow ones that people struggle with removing and that it's more like a natural wildflower with deeper roots. Whereas what I have is like you said, hybridized.

Nevertheless, it sure does reseed !! Like I think I said, the original plant is long gone but the 'babies' keep coming back every year and then I guess they seed and come back the next.

I started with one quart plant in far left corner in either 2011 or 2012, and this is what I ended up with last year:

May 2013

May 2013

June 2013


    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 10:27AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

'Just a guess' - you're dead right it's a guess, Ken. There are a lot of different species and a lot of different colours. Plant breeders are not responsible.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 10:53AM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

Even running bamboo has its place. The problem with some plants that have been asterisked as invasive is that they are not always planted in locations where they are appropriate for use. Plants can behave very differently in different climates and under various growing conditions. So it is not a problem for you, in your climate, in your gardening application. That does not invalidate that it can be a serious problem for native species and gardeners located in a different climate, or country, in a different gardening situation, with a different set of needs.

Rhododendron ponticum isn't invasive here at all. In fact, it would be a challenge to keep healthy, so vigorous or rampant aren't even appropriate adjectives. But I certainly don't discount the validity of floral considering it invasive.

Pink evening primrose is a pretty plant with great attributes for certain applications in a variety of climates. I can hate it for my garden, while loving it growing on the dry hillside. I don't even dislike it in appropriate garden bed applications. It isn't the plant; it is the problems caused when the application isn't appropriate for the plant chosen.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 12:50PM
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Ken, I don't know about hybrids but Oenothera is a big group, there are many different native varieties in all parts of the country. The fluttermills put out pods that don't open until late winter for the most part so you can clean out under the plants & easily gather them up. They are kind of hard to open in fall & the seeds are fairly big, they look like small bb's. These are not spreading types like the Mexican Primrose, they all form neat compact clumps. Missouri primrose (O. macrocarpa) is the most well known.

O. caespitosa needs perfect drainage & has slow sporadic germination. This is one I want to try in a dry spot sometime. It has grey green fuzzy leaves with 4" light pink flowers.

Yellow Evening Primrose (O. elata ssp. hirsutissima) can get unmanageable under wet conditions. Mexican primrose (O. speciosa) & Pale Evening Primrose (O. pallida), these 3 are all spreaders that seed about more.

Brit, it looks like you have lanceleaf coreopsis in that planting. That is a plant that seeds a lot & forms thick clumps. I have an area I'm using it in just for that purpose. I dug some weed-whacked clumps of plants up out of a gravel parking lot last summer. You just plunk them in, they grow forming a nice mat ground cover.

I just I.D.'ed the silver leaf primrose, its the Missouri primrose type but has silver leaves instead of green, the flowers are bigger & lighter yellow, stems are red ----O. macrocarpa var. incana. (link & photo below). It comes true from seed.

floral uk, you hit the nail square on the head. Its exactly like buying furniture to some people. Some even ask for suggestions of plants that will need no care, trimming, are evergreen, won't grow larger etc as if they expect to have them installed & then they can just forget about it forever like its a permanently done deal. I say, why not just pour concrete & get some sculptures to set into it or maybe plastic plants? There is that nice artificial grass out now also. You just lay it like carpet. Imagine the condition of the dirt underneath after a while........

Here is a link that might be useful: http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=silver+leaf+oenothera&img=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wildflower.org%2Fimage_archive%2F320x240%2FJAM6151%2F6151_IMG04018.JPG&v_t=nscpsearch&host=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wildflower.org%2Fplants%2Fresult.php%3Fid_plant%3DOEMAI2&width=181&height=135&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft2.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcQIGKl2oEghJZ_NkDQF-MQ8co2BW5W4eLsj8KYV68eNr9IKXqclm20YBv92bA%3Awww.wildflower.org%2Fimage_archive%2F320x240%2FJAM6151%2F6151_IMG04018.JPG&b=image%3Fq%3Ds%3DimageResultsBack%26v_t%3Dnscpsearch%26oreq%3Dfe0949f4e324454ea7bb06a11ed70fd7&imgHeight=240&imgWidth=320&imgTitle=Silver+leaf+primrose&imgSize=130016&hostName=www.wildflower.org

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 17:04

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:17PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Nice plant. Looks just like some that a real nice person gave me. Mine are getting ready to bud. Still a littles young. I like how people just grow it in their lawn. It comes up and blooms and when they are bloomed out, they mow and that is that. Appropriate use for that plant. It ranges through my garden and does not stress out the salvias and penstemons that are growing there. They will climb above it and then the EP will disappear for the year. I don't get worked up over plants outside "THE PLAN". I like planned accidents and unplanned surprises…. Oh yea, all surprises are unplanned.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 2:47AM
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These are awesome plants. I grow the pink and the yellow too.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 9:09AM
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What's that saying about "any plant is a weed if it isn't growing where it's wanted".

I love these (the light pink ones) growing out wild but hate them in my garden where I have other stuff planned. But at least they add beauty unlike other "unwanteds" that are growing uninvited.

I do have some wild property near Austin that I want to encourage these to grow.......including and especially the yellow ones! I've been looking at bulk seed.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 9:23AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Thanks for the link and all the names of other varieties.. I googled many of them...learned a lot!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 12:25AM
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I'm glad this thread exists! I just came home to find my glowing magenta evening primrose all wilty. Mine is in a dry, sunny (noon onward) spot, but I thought that is the habitat it wants. It even rained a little last night! Has this happened to anyone else??

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 3:22PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Ah well, I have been all over the place regarding EP. It went from being quite beloved, to being utterly despised but has been creeping back into favour again - as have all enthusaistic self-propagators, even the fearful campanula rapunculoides. (so I laugh at the 'invasive' EP) And thinking about it, I can pretty much say that this love hate thing has happened with literally dozens of entire plant families. I am fairly certain that most of us have evolved some sort of gardening style - I have been motivated by personal whims and fancies as much as anyone but latterly, I am guided more by a sense of place and a common vernacular. I look back on my early garden experiments with a mixture of nostalgic fondness (the innocence) but mostly queasy horror (the ignorance). The years of insane plant collecting, zone pushing, entire renovations. :I guess what I am saying is that everything comes back round.....and although I am still vastly opinionated by what I like, it is entirely possible that this can change from abiding love to complete disdain at the drop of a trowel......but also, if done with a certain brio, I also like all sorts of plants and styles which I wouldn't, couldn't consider for a nano-second in MY garden.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 4:30PM
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I don't think there is a gardener out there who hasn't had a plant(s) wilt then up & die for no good reason.

I look at this sort of thing as part and parcel of gardening -- some deaths are always expected each year but a new planting space is a new planting space so if it dies, I plant something else. Maybe it just didn't like that spot? who knows. It happens in nature too.

I just had a beautiful 2yr old sand penstemon leaf out nicely, then suddenly get all wilty on me, then it died, for no earthly reason whatsoever. Rats, I only had two but at least I still have the one & they have proven quite difficult from seed. My two lonely seedlings that came up out of the many I planted also died. Maybe some I direct sowed will surprise me & next year I will plant seeds again.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Tue, May 13, 14 at 21:30

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Oh mine is nice and happy now after a bit of water!!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 7:57PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I should post a photo of a yard I walk past regularly.

It started out as a designed low maintenance/water yard (someone probably paid some good money) Now it has a couple of months of the white/pink EP in bloom...in bloom in the hedges...in bloom in the gutters...in bloom in the cracks of the sidewalk...in bloom in the middle of any plant near the original. The rest of the year the yard is full of brown dead twigs, guess they should clean that up but it is a low (no) maintenance yard right :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 9:41PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Lauren02...I noticed mine looks "wilty" too. I just planted about a month ago and it seemed happy. It's also splaying out and has yellow leaves in the middle. I thought it was getting enough water...we"ve had plenty of rain. mine too gets plenty of sun. Dunno????

I just might get in there and do some hard pruning. Can't look any worse. Also noticed the blooms are much smaller than when I first got it. Pretty disappointed in it, honestly.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:28AM
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Brit5467 let me know how the pruning goes! Mine doesn't seem big enough to really prune... but you never know. The mysteries of gardening :)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:33AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Lauren...u got that right...lol. gonna go out rite now before the rwin and see if I do dare cut it. Mines not that big either.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:44AM
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I had a biennial called glazioviana and that literally opened at 8 pm every evening.. It was a fun plant...seeded about, but for some reason, it is no longer in my garden.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:17AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Lauren...u got that right...lol. gonna go out rite now before the rwin and see if I do dare cut it. Mines not that big either.

Well, decided against it. I did a few snips in the center to see if I coukd get it to fill in but it just had too many new buds so I couldn't bear to cut it...lol


    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:58AM
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When I moved to a house in central Indiana I had a lovely spring blooming yellow flower that I have now identified as looking like 'sun drops' Whatever these were they did not spread or multiply. I moved from that location and have never forgotten them and I hope to find them and try them out again.

Here is a link that might be useful: sun drops

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:10PM
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Plants of the Southwest carries seed for 'Fendler's Sundrops' (Calyophus hartwegii), a slightly different variety of sundrops which is a compact, perennial bush type primrose, it has thinner leaves than the one you had. It forms a woody base & has abundant blooms. They self sow only slightly which is rather nice since you can get some free plants that way. They also carry Missouri Primrose which forms a neat mound, blooms large yellow. Both need to be sowed in fall for 2-3 months cold stratification but come up easily.

I have had both growing here for some time that I started from seed. Now if I want a new one elsewhere, I dig up a volunteer seedling in spring & transplant it, there are usually 3 or 4.

Personally, unless I had a large field or acreage I would not grow Pink Evening Primrose myself.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Fri, May 16, 14 at 14:40

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:30PM
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davids10 z7a nv.

oenothera tetragona is i ferocious seeder and prone to mildew but its scent in the evening is amazing-it also looks kind of raggedy ass because of its bloom habit. as for o. berlandieri it was everywhere when it came out(20 years ago) i think people got tired of it and a little plant snobbery came in. with the millions and millions of plants that were sold if it were as big a thug as all that the country would be covered with it-actually cant think the last time i saw it in someones garden

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:34PM
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I really like evening primrose. I tried growing the mexican kind but they won't come back the following season and after two attempts I gave up. I had a nice patch of pink evening primrose growing around the sweet gum tree so I won't have to mow. They didn't like this last winter because my nice patch is no more. I have a total of five plants blooming, that just looks sad. I'll get the patch back its just going to take awhile.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 6:16PM
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I never had much an opinion on them until today when I saw some at a nursery (I need to stop going by to "just look"....) when I saw them; big, broad leaves, ribbed and rippled. They looked like dinosaur kale leaves. That was enough for me to fall for them. They're definitely on my list of things to get in the future.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:30PM
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david, that sounds like some kind of Primula which is also called primrose. Its definitely not Evening Primrose, which has small narrow leaves with a sprawling habit. Evening Primrose is in the Oenothera family.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 11:21PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Well all I have to say is....I'm the OP and the Glowing Magenta I was so excited about is a huge disappointment. Hardly any blooms and what I do get are about the size of a quarter, if even that big. So where I expected a big flush of sprawling color....I just have mainly foliage. Not at all what I expected :(


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:30PM
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TexasRanger10 - you're absolutely correct! My mistake. thanks

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:34PM
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Hate evening primrose ? The pale pink are one of my all time favorite flowers ! I love they are popping up all over. They are so dainty & are great fillers !

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:07PM
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Here are my stand of Evening Primrose as of today. Such bright yellow in a much less than full sun location.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:28AM
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I'm not much of a yellow lover but I've found that I really do like these. I have 3 and learned they grow tall and are floppers. Here is one I caged...

My pink one I have been able to contain(so far) to a small area. I'm sure being in less than ideal conditions (close to maple tree) has helped.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:52AM
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So gorgeous

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:37PM
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I love the yellow ones and stick them in among the different perennials for a flash of color. I dislike the pink because it re-seeds everywhere - the yellow stays in one spot. It spreads but doesn't seem to re-seed for me.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 9:20AM
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