Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Lythrum salicaria L.
LYTHRACEAE (Loosestrife Family)
EtymologyLythrum is derived from lythron, Greek for blood, in reference to the color of the flowers; salicaria means willow-like, from the Latin: salix = willow + arius = connected to.
Synonyms (Common Name)Spiked Loosestrife
DescriptionA tall (5') and showy perennial herb with bright magenta flowers, purple loosestrife is not native to North America. Introduced from Eurasia in the 1850's, it is a highly invasive plant that forms dense colonies and outcompetes many native wetland species.
Wetland indicator statusFACW+
Plant Height2-5 feet
LeavesOpposite or in whorls of three, simple, entire; up to 4" long; lanceolate to linear, with heart-shaped, clasping base.
Flower/InflorescenceMagenta, 1/2"- 3/4" wide, 5-6 petals; in axils of reduced leaves, forming dense terminal spikes up to 16" tall.
Flowering PeriodJuly-September
FruitCapsule, small (3/8"), contains approx. 100 tiny seeds.
HabitatMarshes, borders of rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds; wet meadows.
RangeNewfoundland and Quebec to North Dakota, south to Virginia, Missouri, and Kansas; occasionally west to the Pacific; introduced -- originally from Eurasia.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett