Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Purple loosestrife is a wetland plant from Europe and Asia. It was introduced into the east coast of North America in the 1800s. First spreading along roads, canals, and drainage ditches, then later distributed as an ornamental, this exotic plant is in 40 states and all Canadian border provinces.
Purple loosestrife invades marshes and lakeshores, replacing cattails and other wetland plants. The plant can form dense, impenetrable stands which are unsuitable as cover, food, or nesting sites for a wide range of native wetland animals including ducks, geese, rails, bitterns, muskrats, frogs, toads, and turtles. Many rare and endangered wetland plants and animals are also at risk.
Individual flowers have five or six pink-purple petals surrounding small, yellow centers. Each flower spike is made up of many individual flowers.
Leaves are downy, with smooth edges. They are usually arranged opposite each other in pairs which alternate down the stalk at 90 degree angles, however, they may appear in groups of three.
Stalks are square, five or six-sided, woody, as tall as 2 meters (over 6 feet) with several stalks on mature plants
Each mature plant can produce up to 2.7 million seeds annually. As tiny as grains of sand, seeds are easily spread by water, wind, wildlife and humans. Germination can occur the following season, but seeds may lay dormant for several years before sprouting.