Common Name:Purple loosestrife
Botanical name:Lythrum salicaria
Legal Status:NEMBA Category 1a
A plant of European origin, it is an erect, hairy perennial that can reach up to 2m high. It has 30-50 stems and forms wide-topped crowns. The stems are reddish-purple or red to purple and square in cross-section and the downy leaves are lance-shaped. Showy spikes of rose-purple flowers appear in summer. The flowers are10-20mm in diameter, with six petals (occasionally five) and 12 stamens, clustered tightly in the axils of bracts or leaves. The fruit is a small 3-4mm capsule containing numerous minute seeds.
Where does this species come from?
The invasive Lythrum salicaria is native to Eurasia.
Why is it a problem?
Under favorable conditions, purple loosestrife is able to rapidly establish and replace native vegetation with a dense, homogeneous stand that reduces local biodiversity, endangers rare species and provides little value to wildlife
Means of reproduction?
Individual flowers have five to seven petals. A single mature plant can have 30-50 stems arising from one rootstock, and can produce an estimated two to three million seeds per year.
For more information: Invasive Species South Africa - Lythrum salicaria | Purple loosestrife
City of Cape Town Invasive Species ID Kit - Click here to download a z-folder pamphlet on Lythrum salicaria | Purple loosestrife