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Lythrum salicaria

Lythrum salicaria L.

Lythrum salicaria L. var. gracilior Turcz.

Lythrum salicaria L. var. tomentosum (Mill.) DC.

Lythrum salicaria L. var. vulgare DC.

Purple Loosestrife

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderMyrtalesIncludes myrtles, leadwoods, loosestrifes, pomegranates, evening primroses, many others
FamilyLythraceaeLoosestrife family, also Includes henna, pomegranates, crape myrtles, others
GenusLythrumFrom Greek lythron, “blood,” for its use as a styptic (blood-clotting agent)
SpeciessalicariaMeans “willow-like”

About plant names...

Purple loosestrife is a native of Europe and Asia, introduced to North America, where it is now an invasive species.

I try to stay neutral about terms like “invasive” and even “weed.” Not that I don’t curse when I’m weeding the landscaping or the vegetable garden. But many of the plants that have acquired these unsavory descriptions were originally introduced intentionally, for their beauty or cultivation potential, sometimes even to control other “invasives.” Purple loosestrife is such a plant. “So wait a minute,” loosestrife might think, if it could think, “I’m just doing my job. You’ve thrown me into some new place, and I’m growing, and doing it rather well if I do say so myself. But I’m getting blamed for it. What’s that about?”

But I guess I have my limits. Although oriental bittersweet is probably at the top of my annoying plant list, purple loosestrife is number two. It can turn a thriving beaver pond ecosystem into a barren purple monoculture in a space of about two years—I’m watching it happen to my beaver pond right now.

Identification: Purple loosestrife is a tall, narrow plant, 24-36" (60-91 cm) in height, with a beautiful conical purple flowerhead visible during much of the summer, disappearing at the first frost. It is native to Eurasia; throughout Great Britain, and across central and southern Europe to central Russia, Japan, Manchuria China, southeast Asia and northern India.[1] In the U.S., it is an alien, introduced in the 1800s, now found throughout most of the US and Canada. It rapidly takes over both freshwater and brackish wet areas, even regions that are only seasonally damp, out-competing nearly everything in its path.

Online References:

Lythrum salicaria on Missouriplants.com

Lythrum salicaria on Wikipedia

Lythrum salicaria on the Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group Least Wanted List

Lythrum salicaria at the Washington State Department of Ecology

Lythrum salicaria on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Lythrum salicaria on Invasive.org, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health

Lythrum salicaria on CalPhotos

Lythrum salicaria on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Lythrum salicaria on eFloras

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

9/17/2012 · Blood Dragon Ravine, Jeff Smith Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 19 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

9/3/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 12 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

8/4/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 5 × 3½' (1.6 × 1 m)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

8/1/2009 · Stan & Connie’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 14 × 21" (34 × 52 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

9/17/2012 · Blood Dragon Ravine, Jeff Smith Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3 × 4½" (7.9 × 11 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

11/7/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (14 × 22 cm) ID is uncertain

1PCA Alien Plant Group

Lythrum salicaria description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 5 Oct 2016.

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Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

9/17/2012 · Blood Dragon Ravine, Jeff Smith Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

9/17/2012 · Blood Dragon Ravine, Jeff Smith Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

The flowers have passed, and the stalks will turn brown and persist through the winter. · 9/18/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 23 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

8/1/2009 · Stan & Connie’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 22 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

11/7/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (14 × 22 cm) ID is uncertain

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

8/4/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 5 × 8" (12 × 19 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

8/3/2009 · 111 Near 119, Pepperell, MA
≈ 11 × 17" (28 × 42 cm)

Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

8/6/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 3 × 4½" (7.9 × 11 cm)

Range:

About this map...