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Wanded Loosestrife

Wanded Loosestrife
(Lythrum virgatum)

Very similar to the more commonly known purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), wanded loosestrife is a European wetland plant that has been introduced to North America and widely sold as an ornamental. Plants grow 3-4 feet tall with showy pink to purple flowers on four-angled stems. It can spread through seeds when cross-pollinated with other Lythrum species or through rooting stem fragments.



Overview

Regulated areas of Wanded Loosestrife
This species is Prohibited (Red counties)

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: European wand loosestrife

Ecological threat:

  • Adapts to a range of environments with moist soils and shallow waters where it competes with native wetland plants.
  • Through spreading by seed or vegetatively, it can form dense monocultures of little value to wildlife.
  • Has been widely planted as an ornamental where it escapes to nearby water ways. It is sometimes sold in nurseries as a sterile variety; however, it can still produce viable seeds when cross-pollinating with wild varieties.

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for wanded loosestrife was based upon this literature review developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves: Leaves grow lance-shaped 1 to 5 inches long and up to 1.5 inches wide. They are hairless and grow oppositely arranged (sometimes alternately), on the stems.

Flowers: Flowers are showy, purple to pink in color, and grow in spikes 5 to 10 inches long at stem ends (terminal). Each flower spike is made up of many small flowers, each with 5-6 petals.

Fruits & seeds: Seed capsules are cylindrical and up to 5 mm long. They open when mature in late July-August.

Roots: A large woody taproot with fibrous rhizomes; rhizomes form dense mats.

Stems: Stems are upright and 4-angled, growing up to 3 or 4 feet tall.

Similar species: Wanded loosestrife is similar to purple loosestrife but is smaller, hairless and smooth with narrower leaves, and flowers are mostly paired or clustered in leafy, open flower clusters. It can be distinguished from the similar, native fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) by its narrower, more slender flower spikes, and four-edged stems. Native wing-angled loosestrife (Lythrum alatum) is found in moist prairies and wet meadows; has winged, square stems and solitary flowers in the leaf axils. Lower leaves are paired while the upper leaves are alternate.

Distribution

Lythrum_virgatum
Counties in WI where wanded loosestrife has been reported (as of April 2013). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Currently, there are no reports of wanded loosestrife in WI. Have you seen it? Send us a report.

Control

Mechanical: Small plants and seedlings can be dug out. Larger plants can be dug out making sure to remove root fragments. Remove all plant parts and either burn, landfill, or bury deep in the ground. Mowing is not recommended due to plant parts starting new populations and seed dispersal.

Chemical: If near water, a permit may be required. Foliar treatments of aquatic formulations of imazapyr or glyphosate may work.

Biological: Galerucella beetles have been successful in many parts of the state in controlling purple loosestrife populations and are likely to affect wanded loosestrife as well. Want to get involved with biocontrol? Find out more on our purple loosestrife biocontrol page.

Photos

View Wanded loosestrife pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:

Links for More Information

Last revised: Monday June 03 2019