Purple loosestrife

PhotosByHealy

Amherstview, Canada

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1,000 views as of 13 October 2015



Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) photographed along the side of the road, Bayridge drive, Kinsgton Ontario, Canada

Camera: Canon EOS 5D; Lens: Canon EF-100mm USM Macro; f/7.1 @ 1/500 sec; ISO: 400


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Challenge Winner in the following challenges:

  • Challenge Winner in the P U R P L E challenge in the group Wildflowers of North America on 10 August 2013
  • Challenge Winner in the A Passion For Purple challenge in the group Wildflowers of North America on 16 August 2016

Lythrum salicaria is a herbaceous perennial plant, that can grow 1-1.5 m tall. The stems are reddish-purple or red to purple and square in cross-section. The leaves are lanceolate, 3–10 cm long and 5–15 mm broad, downy and sessile, and arranged opposite or in whorls of three. The flowers are reddish purple, 10–20 mm diameter, with six petals (occasionally five) and 12 stamens, and are clustered tightly in the axils of bracts or leaves; there are three different flower types, with the stamens and style of different lengths, short, medium or long; each flower type can only be pollinated by one of the other types, not the same type, thus ensuring cross-pollination between different plants.
     It has been used as an astringent medicinal herb to treat diarrhea and dysentery; it is considered safe to use for all ages, including babies.7 It is also cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens, and is particularly associated with damp, poorly-drained locations such as marshes, bogs and watersides. However, it will tolerate drier conditions.
     The purple loosestrife has been introduced into temperate New Zealand and North America where it is now widely naturalized and officially listed in some controlling agents. Infestations result in dramatic disruption in water flow in rivers and canals, and a sharp decline in biological diversity as native food and cover plant species, notably cattails, are completely crowded out, and the life cycles of organisms from waterfowl to amphibians to algae are affected. A single plant may produce up to three million tiny seeds annually. Easily carried by wind and water, the seeds germinate in moist soils after overwintering. The plant can also sprout anew from pieces of root left in the soil or water. Once established, loosestrife stands are difficult and costly to remove by mechanical and chemical means.


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