Lythrum alatum - WINGED LOOSESTRIFE

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This is not yet a well-known plant in North American horticulture, so it's no surprise that someone from abroad has to show us how beautiful this native perennial is and can be. In this case it's none less than the most famous landscape architect in the world, Piet Oudolf! If you don't believe it, go to Chicago's Lurie Garden and check it out!

This native loosestrife is safe for our gardens, very beneficial for native pollinators and many types of insects, attracts small native birds, and is not widely abundant in nature (due to loss of its natural habitats) or in our gardens. Somewhat irregular/floppy growth, flowers appear in mid summer and bloom through early fall. 

Native winged loosestrife (Lythrum alatum) and invasive Eurasian purple loosestrife (Lythrum virgatum) share the same habitat (wetlands, boggy soils, banks) and look a bit similar as well. However, the native loosestrife has smaller pale-pink flowers that are separated, while the invasive kind has dense spikes of dark purple flowers. Native loosestrife also has winged stems and a bit untidy growth habit, but the invasive loosestrife is strictly upright.

So, this native loosestrife is a good substitute for the invasive species (which is usually banned for commercial sale anyway). The small leaves of this plant look a bit shiny and ornamental, and the flowers are smaller; the most ornamental feature may be Lythrum alatum's superb coppery-orange fall color.

The best uses are in naturalistic plantings, among other taller plants so it can intermingle with or lean on them, along streams and other bodies of water, and in bog gardens or medium-moist flower beds.

Picture copyright: US Perennials nursery

Blooming Time: June to September
Size: 3' tall x 1-5-2' wide
USDA Zones: 3 to 8
Culture: full sun, average soil
Moisture Needs: medium-moist, moist, and wet 
Origin: native to the eastern and central USA and Ontario (USDA distribution map)
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: yes / yes
Attracts Butterflies or Pollinators: long-tongued bees (honeybees, bumblebees, cuckoo bees, long-horned bees, leaf-cutting bees), green metallic bees, bee flies, butterflies, and skippers
Attracts Hummingbirds: no
Pot Size: 
square 3.5" x 4" deep perennial pot 

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  • 5
    I’m so happy I discovered this plant

    Posted by Esther Mathieu on 5th Oct 2021

    I love this one! Planted it in a spot where it can drape over the border of my garden and it is beautiful in person! It’s almost fall and I’m loving the colors right now. Definitely a keeper!