The Q&A Archives: Lythrum

Question: My friend's Grandmother has a plant called Lythrum (Mordens Gleam) and is wondering what it is, and how to get it. For all I know it may be a weed! I'd appreciate any information you may be able to give me.

Answer: You're right on target! It IS a weed? So invasive it is illegal in many states!

Lythrum, commonly called Purple Loosestrife, became the rage about 10 years ago. It was a standout in everyone's gardens. Then slowly the ravages of this beautiful plant became known. Each flower produces thousands of seeds which are eaten and deposited by birds. When the plant became established in wetlands, its aggressive nature took over.

Wetlands, which were the homes or stopovers for ducks and geese, became lost in a "sea" of loosestrife. The massive root systems didn't allow for nesting or food. This invasive plant has destroyed the habitat of thousands of fowl. The shoreline of Lake Michigan in northern Indiana is a beautiful sight in summer as the pinky-purple blooms cover the area for miles! Who would have guessed it is a death chamber for the ducks and geese??! Sale of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum) is illegal now in Indiana and in many other states. There are other options for a tall spike of pink-purple flowers in the garden without the damage that this noxious plant can cause. Instead, try gayfeather (liatris), phlox, delphinium or foxglove (digitalis) for a similar effect.

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