FutureStarr

Lythrum Alatum OR.

Lythrum Alatum OR.

Lythrum Alatum

Winged Loosestrife is the native next of kin to the widely invasive and destructive Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria that was introduced by gardeners via the global nursery industry and is now ranked among the most highly problematic invasive species in North America. While perhaps L. alatum was once more widely encountered than it is now, much of its habitat is highly vulnerable to invasion by its cousin as well as problem plants like Reed Canary Grass, which easily displace it and everything else. Where Winged Loosestrife does persist it is unlikely to be confused with Purple Loosestrife, as it behaves itself and does not have the dense flower spikes of its cousin, and for those reasons it is not always easy to pick out of the landscape.

Plant

Short-stalked flowers, usually single or sometimes paired, in the leaf axils on branching stems, typically 2 to 5 blooming at a time in a cluster slowly ascending the branch as newer buds mature. Individual flowers are ¼ to ½ inch across with 6 petals rounded at the tip and fused at the base into a short tube. Petals are pale lavender, purple or rose-pink with a darker mid-vein and textured like wrinkled tissue paper. The calyx holding the flower forms a narrow tube slightly longer than the petals, has strong parallel venation and 6 short, sharply pointed lobes that curve outward. Inside the tube are 6 purplish stamens and a single greenish style. A plant has several racemes on erect branching stems in the upper part of the plant.Winged Loosestrife is the native next of kin to the widely invasive and destructive Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria that was introduced by gardeners via the global nursery industry and is now ranked among the most highly problematic invasive species in North America.

While perhaps L. alatum was once more widely encountered than it is now, much of its habitat is highly vulnerable to invasion by its cousin as well as problem plants like Reed Canary Grass, which easily displace it and everything else. Where Winged Loosestrife does persist it is unlikely to be confused with Purple Loosestrife, as it behaves itself and does not have the dense flower spikes of its cousin, and for those reasons it is not always easy to pick out of the landscapeDespite the same genus and similar comon name, Winged Loosestrife should not be confused with the non-native, invasive Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) that threatens our North American wetlands. Winged Loosestrife can be found growing in the same wet-mesic prairies and meadows, fens, marshes and the borders of water bodies. Its habitat is now vulnerable to its invasive relative Purple Loosestrife, and, since they look similar, many people cannot differentiate between the two in the wild. Winged Loosestrife plants and their flowers are smaller than the related invasive Purple Loosestrife, and the native species has winged stems. Winged Loosestrife has single purple flowers blooming on short stalks that arise from a leaf axil. The pale purple petals have a darker purple mid-vein and resemble the texture of wrinkled tissue paper. Winged Loosestrife is beneficial to pollinators and birds. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)

 

 

 

 

Related Articles