€2,25 – €9,00
Native perennial with amaranth flowers. Purple loosestrife is a beautiful rather tall plant recommended for wetlands. It blooms late and is an excellent bee benefit. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
Polish name: common loosestrife
Latin name: Lythrum salicaria
Family: the loosestrifes Lythraceae
Status in Poland: native, common
A grand perennial plant with angular erect stems, and impressive inflorescences.It develops strong and stout partially woody taproots, and underground shoots of rhizome type with aerenchyma in specimens growing in shallow water, or on long-flooded meadows.
Whorled foliaged (three leaflets per whorl), sometimes alternate foliaged, aboveground shoots usually grow singly and simply, less often with sparse, not very long side shoots. They usually reach 50-130 cm height. They are strongly tomentosed and almost square in cross-section.
Purple loosestrife forms several types of leaves:
1) lower-stem, heart-shaped, with strongly protruding and simultaneously shaggy veins;
2) medial-stem, oblong-lanceolate, with less noticeable veins, positioned opposite on the stem, by 2 or 4 in whorls;
3) upper-stem, identical in shape to the middle ones, but placed alternate, not opposite; and
4) bracts protecting the inflorescence growing from their angle, also lanceolate, much smaller than the rest of the leaves.
The entire inflorescence has the form of a slender, raspberry-pink spike or raceme of over 100 flowers, and blooms from June to September, sometimes October. Single flowers are bisexual, composed of an epicalyx, a calyx, and a corolla. The peculiarity of the purple loosestrife is the presence in the same inflorescence of three categories of flowers, depending on the length of the stamens and pistils, as well as their color and maturation time. This differentiation protects against self-pollination, and also against pollen robbers. They are described in more detail in the Interesting Facts section.
The fruit in the form of a brown capsule, permanently protected by dried remains of the calyx. It bursts after the inner compartment ripening.
Purple loosestrife requires permanently moist, peaty or humus soils, heavy and fertile. It needs a lot of sun. Tolerates the cold well.
It is perfect for planting by the shores of ponds, ditches, canals, for bee and butterfly gardens, and other naturalistic arrangements (often together with meadowsweets, irises, and Lysimachia).
As a component of urban flower meadows and flower margins, it is perfect for periodically flooded or constantly wet areas.
It can be multiplied in many ways, by sowing seeds in spring or autumn, by dividing old but healthy clumps, by dividing stubs or rhizome fragments, and possibly also by shoot cuttings.
According to the ancient principle common to peoples around the globe, that “like cures like”, the herb of L. salicaria was used in Ancient history and the Middle Ages against dysentery. Forgotten in modern periods, it returned to favor during World War I as an expectorant, antidiarrheal, astringent, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory medicine. Nowadays it is used again in the case of diabetes, hypertension, thrombosis, even after heart attacks. In cosmetology, it is used to treat acne and seborrhea.
Purple loosestrife reproduction is definitely run by the number three and its multiples. First, on various specimens of this moisture-loving perennial, we find three types of flowers. Secondly, single flowers are characterized by six-fold symmetry, having 6 stamens. Clear differences concern both the length of the stamens and the length of the style of the pistil in each of the three categories of specimens.
Individual stamens differ not only in dimensions, but also in color: the short and medium stamens are golden, and the longest ones are green. The pistil is half-bottomed and the stigmas are flattened. In the depths of the cup-shaped torus, nectar for insects accumulates. It attracts hymenopterans, especially solitary and honey bees. When visiting three categories of purple loosestrifes, insects pick up pollen on different parts of the abdomen and head, depending on the height of the stamens in a given flower. Then they sit down on the next flower, usually of a different structure, rubbing the dusted part of the body against the pistil. Thus, in the course of evolution, loosestrife flowers have developed an unusual mechanism of cross-pollination, where all plants are bisexual, but can only be pollinated with pollen from other categories. Only then they will develop healthy seeds. They ripen in a brown capsule with a compartment inside.
It provides up to 250 kg of honey per hectare. Beekeepers appreciate it for its long flowering, also in autumn, when there are only few benefit plants. It is eagerly visited by bees.
The purple loosestrife is often preyed by caterpillars of the legally protected, quite rare in Poland moth: the willowherb hawkmoth Proserpinus proserpina.