The flowering plant genus Oenothera is uniquely suited for studying molecular mechanisms of speciation. It assembles an intriguing combination of genetic features, including permanent translocation heterozygosity, biparental transmission of plastids, and a general interfertility of well-defined species. This allows an exchange of plastids and nuclei between species often resulting in plastome-genome incompatibility. For evaluation of its molecular determinants we present the complete nucleotide sequences of the five basic, genetically distinguishable plastid chromosomes of subsection Oenothera (=Euoenothera) of the genus, which are associated in distinct combinations with six basic genomes. Sizes of the chromosomes range from 163 365 bp (plastome IV) to 165 728 bp (plastome I), display between 96.3% and 98.6% sequence similarity and encode a total of 113 unique genes. Plastome diversification is caused by an abundance of nucleotide substitutions, small insertions, deletions and repetitions. The five plastomes deviate from the general ancestral design of plastid chromosomes of vascular plants by a subsection-specific 56 kb inversion within the large single-copy segment. This inversion disrupted operon structures and predates the divergence of the subsection presumably 1 My ago. Phylogenetic relationships suggest plastomes I-III in one clade, while plastome IV appears to be closest to the common ancestor.