Hairy Willow-herb
Epilobium hirsutumOnagraceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerFruitFruit
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • Codlins and cream, European fireweed

The Plant:

  • An herbaceous perennial that spreads through rhizomes.

The Leaves:

  • sharply toothed
  • upper and lower surfaces pubescent

The Stem:

  • erect
  • pubescent 1.5-6.5 feet tall

The Flowers:

  • Rose colored four-petaled flowers that grow from leaf axils. Petal bases are pubescent.

The Fruits:

  • 2-3 inches long, skinny capsules, green drying to brown
  • split open into four pieces to reveal oblong, flat seeds attached to tufts of long, white hairs

The Habitat:

  • moist, wet soils, semi-aquatic areas
  • wet meadow
  • gardens
  • open areas
  • full sun


  • spreads vegetatively by rhizomes
  • wind-dispersed seeds are a secondary means of spread

Key ID Features:

  • toothed
  • hairy leaves
  • pink flowers
  • 4 petals
  • seeds tufted with white hairs

Similar Species:

  • Freweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
  • The leaves of E. angustifolium are longer and hairless.


  • Hairy Willow Herb can out crowd native plants in wetland areas.
  • On Nantucket, this species is restricted to wetlands. It is known in only four or five locations, but at those locations it exists as a monoculture.

Growth Form: Herb

Origin: Europe, Asia, North Africa

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Likely Invasive

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: importation ban, propagation ban

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston