Purple Loosestrife

Scientific Name:

Lythrum salicaria

Type:

Herbaceous Plant

Habitat:

Most commonly wetlands

Range:

Native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa; widespread across North America

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

INVASIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Purple loosestrife has a distinct, square-shaped stem that can sometimes be covered in soft hairs. The plant produces purple flowers with five to seven petals each, and has lance shaped leaves, which means the leaves are long and narrow. Purple loosestrife have three different types of flowers. Each individual plant only has one of the three flower varieties, but needs the other two types of flowers in close proximity to pollinate. Mature individuals can grow up to four meters tall and can appear bush-like.

Fast Facts:

  • Due to its insect repellent properties, farmers used to hang purple loosestrife around their oxen to prevent insects from biting their animals.

  • Purple loosestrife was most likely brought to America for several purposes- 1) to be used as an ornamental plant and 2) to be used as an herbal remedy for dysentery, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.

  • The leaves were used as a traditional medicine to stop bleeding.

  • Purple loosestrife prefers to grow in environments with wet soils, but it can also survive in dry soils. When growing in wet soils, it can easily produce monocultures and drive out native plants. Purple loosestrife most commonly invades wetlands.

  • Purple loosestrife is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Since being introduced to North America in the 1830s, it can also be found throughout Canada and every US state except Hawaii and Florida.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Camille Verendia (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

May 12, 2021, 10:19:27 PM