Saturday, July 11, 2009

A likeable Loosestrife

Loosestrife gets a bad rap and some of it is well deserving. The species with the garish hot-pink flowers, forming masses of color in our wetlands is a bad one indeed! It is an invasive known to dominate cattail marshes like a playground bully. It pushes its way in, and there is not much you can do to stop it.

Fringed Loosestrife, Lysimachia ciliata

There are likeable varieties of loosestrife, and although not as well known, they are well-behaved additions to our native flora. Fringed and Whorled Loosestrife both bear yellow flowers, with similar five petaled flowers. Whorled Loosestrife, Lysimachia quadrafolia has distinctive whorled leaves in tiers of four (hence the name quadrafolia.) Our photo feature is Fringed Loosestrife, Lysimachia ciliata a lovely addition to wet thickets throughout Ohio.

There is even a seldom seen native loosestrife, in a hot-pink variety. It will make you do a double-take, and wonder if the bad ones are loose again. A little comparison of size and leaf shape should clue you in to this diminutive wet-prairie species. Although it is not as large and showy as its cousin the bully, it has a pleasant, delicate look among the sedges and native grasses, and resides at both Dahmer Prairie and Castalia Resthaven Prairie.


  1. I didn't know loosestrife had a bad rap...we have fringed loosestrife growing in the Black Hills and I've always liked it.

  2. Purple loosestrife is the one with the bad rap. It is highly invasive and destructive Yellow loosestrife varieties are native and no problem, though.