Get Loose with Southern Winged Loosestrife

Southern winged loosestrife (Lythrum alatum var. lanceolatum) is a summer-blooming, herbaceous perennial native to the Southeastern United States and parts of the Greater Antilles.

The small, delicate magenta flowers are borne from June to September in leafy terminal spikes (i.e., panicles), and attract numerous bee and butterfly species. Mature plants average 3-6 feet and are upright in form with numerous, fine-textured ascending branches.

Both the common and scientific name (i.e., “alatum”) refers to the narrow wing-like appendages along the margins of the lower stem, a noteworthy characteristic used to distinguish it from its invasive Eurasian cousin, purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).

Southern winged loosestrife is found throughout Florida in a variety of moist to wet habitats, including Flatwoods, wet prairies, marshes, swamps, and lake margins.

Its preference for full sun and poorly drained soils limits its use in the suburban landscape, but for the adventurous gardener, southern winged loosestrife could prove a worthwhile addition to a rain garden, wet meadow or other damp, sunny garden locale.

Blog was written by Patrick Lynch, Plant Records Curator and photographed by Cassidy Jones, Social Media Coordinator.