Description and Biology
- Plant: erect perennial herb with a square, woody stem usually covered by downy hair; 4-10 ft. high, depending upon conditions.
- Leaves: lance-shaped, stalk-less and rounded to heart-shaped at the base; arranged in pairs or whorls around the stem.
- Flowers, fruits and seeds: produces a showy display of magenta-colored flower spikes throughout much of the summer. 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. The flowering season extends from June to September; flowers require pollination by insects, for which they supply an abundant source of nectar.
- Spreads: through the vast quantity of seeds, dispersed by wind and water. It also readily reproduces vegetatively through underground stems at a rate of about one foot per year.
- Look-alikes: from a distance, purple loosestrife may be confused with blue vervain (Verbena hastata), blazing star (Liatris aspera and L. spicata), Canada germander (Teucrium canadense), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), and fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium), which is native to the northern U.S. and Canada.
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