Lythrum Salicaria – It Is An Outlaw Noxious, Invasive Weed


Do you want a spot of brightness in your perennial border or garden during the “midsummer slump”? Do you want a different perennial that will draw the attention of your visitors?

Then you want lythrum… No you don’t!

Lythrum, the “long purples” of Shakespeare, has several varieties once considered worthy of a place in the hardy border. They all have willow-like leaves, square stems, and lovely spikes of bloom ranging in color from soft pink to rosy purple.

However, Lythrum salicaria is an outlaw. It is considered a noxious, invasive weed throughout the United States.

It is illegal to import, sell, offer for sale, or distribute the seeds or the plants of purple loosestrife in any form.

One unusual aspect of the Lythrum is that over in Europe where it is native, it is not a weed growing rampantly.

Common Names

  • purple loosestrife
  • purple lythrum
  • rainbow weed
  • salicaire
  • spiked loosestrife

You can find varieties of pink with generous spikes, full of soft pink blooming in July and August, blending well with other colors. However, the Modern Pink has become a classic, a lingering delight all summer long, with three and one-half foot wands of clear, rose pink.

Lythrum Salicaria – Deep Carmine Red Flowers

Lythrum salicaria has long-lasting, clear deep carmine-red flowers on large spikes. It throws side spikes almost to ground level and thrives in semi-shade or full sun.

Bloom extends from July to frost. Prolific hybrids which are remarkably free flowering, producing 20 or more bloom spikes when well established.

Lythrum Heritage

Lythrum is a member of the loosestrife family, which also includes cuphea, the cigar flower, and lagerstroemia, the crapemyrtle. The name, lythrum, comes from the Greek for blood, in reference to the color of the flowers in some species.

It made its way over from Europe in the 1800’s. It spreads mainly by seeds where a 60-70% survival rate is not uncommon.

Lythrum Care and Growing

Lythrum needs water and is not happy without it. In open border in full sun, a covering of mulch material will hold moisture and weekly watering in hot dry sections will be necessary.

Beside the pool or in that low spot it will be right at home, where it will aggressively grow.

Controlling Purple Loosestrife

The best way to control purple lossestrife is to not plant it. If you purchase “wildflower seeds”, read the label to make sure Lythrum is part of the seed pack.

Eliminating purple loosestrife can be done with a chemical contained in the weed killer Roundup – Glyphosate. The other method is manually by digging up and burning – the best disposal method.

This perennial plant is not one for the garden. Do you part in helping protect the environment by saying No to the Lythrum outlaw.

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