Purple Loosestrife

Lythrum_salicaria,_purple_loosestrife

Lythrum salicaria-Purple Loosestrife

Family: Lythraceae

Other names: Lythrum, Purple Willow Herb, Spiked Loosestrife, Salicaire, Braune or Rother Weiderich, Partyke, Lysimaque rouge, Flowering Sally, Blooming Sally,Lythrum Salicaria Feuerkerze,Lythrum Salicaria Robin

Habitat: Europe, including Britain, south to N. Africa east to western and northern Asia. N. America. Reed swamps at the margins of lakes and slow-flowing rivers, fens and marshes, avoiding acid soils.

Traditional medicine has used Purple Loosestrife in treatment of dysentery, internal hemorrhages, nose bleeds, stomach pains and vaginitis. It is considered to have good astringent and tonic properties, and can be an effective remedy against diarrhea and dysentery, and can significantly help in cases of heavy menstrual and intermenstrual bleeding. It has a tonic effect on the bowels, colon, gall bladder, liver and kidneys. Its beneficial results as an eye-wash are yet to be explored. Purple Loosestrife could act as a remedy against certain eye disorders. Used externally, it can be applied in form of a poultice to wounds, external ulcers and eczema.

Purple-loosestrife_(Lythrum_salicaria)
Lairich Rig [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Purple Loosestrife:

Purple loosestrife is a herbaceous perennial plant with Tall Purple Flowers. It can reach a height of 1.5 meters. Eurasian Plant with Purple Flowers it can cause issues as it is not a native plant here in the UK as it prevents native plants from flourishing. It forms clonal colonies, sending numerous erect stems from a single root mass. They are reddish-purple and tough, and often appear to be woody near the base. The leaves are simple and lanceolate, opposite or in whorls of three. The flowers are also reddish-purple in color, with six petals, arranged on a long spike. The fruit is a small capsule with multiple minute seeds. Flowering lasts throughout the summer.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can grow in water.

Cultivation of Purple Loosestrife:

Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, especially if it is damp. Prefers a neutral to alkaline soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Grows well in marshy soils and succeeds in shallow water at the edges of ponds. Succeeds in full sun or partial shade. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -25°c. This species can be very invasive and has been declared a noxious weed in some countries. Since being introduced in N. America it has invaded native marshlands, florming large areas of dense stands and crowding out many native species. A very ornamental plant. A good bee and butterfly plant. Plants usually self-sow when well sited.

Propagation of Purple Loosestrife:

Seed – sow in the autumn or the spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it could be worthwhile trying a sowing in situ in the autumn or the spring. Division in March or October. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Basal cuttings in the spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Culinary uses of Purple Loosestrife:

Edible Parts: Leaves, Root.
Edible Uses: Colouring.

Leaves – cooked. Rich in calcium. Root – cooked. An edible dye is obtained from the flowers.

Medicinal uses of Purple Loosestrife:

Antibiotic,  Antidiarrhoeal,  Astringent,  Hypoglycaemic,  Styptic,  Vulnerary.

Lythrum_Salicaria_botanical,purple_loosestrifePurple loosestrife is an astringent herb that is mainly employed as a treatment for diarrhoea and dysentery. It can be safely taken by people of all ages and has been used to help arrest diarrhoea in breast-feeding babies. It can also be used to treat heavy periods and inter-menstrual bleeding. Modern research has shown the whole plant to be antibiotic and to be particularly effective against the micro-organism that causes typhus. The flowering plant is antibiotic, highly astringent, hypoglycaemic, styptic and vulnerary. It is valued as an intestinal disinfectant, especially in cases of enteritis, an infusion is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, internal bleeding, excessive menstruation etc. The flowering plant is harvested in the summer and can be used fresh or dried. Externally, the plant is used as a cleansing and healing wash for wounds, sores, impetigo, eczema, excess vaginal discharge, vaginal itching etc. The powdered plant is used as a haemostatic in cases of severe nosebleeds. The stems are regarded as gum stimulators and are given to children to chew in order to strengthen weak or bleeding gums.

Other uses of Purple Loosestrife:

Cosmetic,  Dye,  Preservative,  Tannin, Teeth.

A decoction of the plant is impregnated into wood, rope etc to prevent it rotting in water. The leaves contain about 12% tannin, the stems 10.5%, the flowers 13.7% and the roots 8.5%. It is probably these tannins that preserve the wood etc. The powdered plant is used cosmetically in face-packs to counteract reddened skin.

Esoteric uses of Purple Loosestrife:

None known but if you use this plant for any purpose please let us know!

The Chemistry:

Salicarin, tannins, volatile oil, mucilage, sterols.

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