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Lythraceae: Loosestrife Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Lythraceae
Plants of the
Loosestrife Family

      If you have seen a marshland of tall and skinny plants with lots of pink-purple families, then you have likely met one prominent member of the Loosestrife family. Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) introduced as an ornamental plant from Europe in the late 1800s. Its square stems and opposite leaves may mislead you to think that it is a member of the Mint family, until you examine the flowers. Purple loosestrife propagates quickly via spreading roots and prolific seed production. It has taken over swamps from coast to coast, altering the ecology and reducing habitat for native species. Any small or isolated patches should be reported to the landowner or public agency in charge of the land.

      Members of the Loosestrife family are herbs in the northern latitudes, while some species in the tropics are trees. These plants have opposite or whorled leaves. They have regular, bisexual flowers with 4, 6, or 8 sepals and a like number of petals (sometimes absent). There are typically twice as many stamens as petals, forming two circles of different lengths. The ovary is confusing at first, because it looks like an inferior ovary where the sepals and petals are above the ovary. However, it is an illusion due to the deep floral cup. The point of attachment is actually below the ovary, so the ovary is positioned superior in most species, or halfway in between on some. The ovary consists of 2 to 6 carpels (syncarpous) with the partition walls present, forming an equal number of chambers. It matures as a capsule with several to numerous seeds. Most plants in this family are adapted to damp soils. Worldwide, there are 25 genera and 550 species. Seven genera are native to North America, as listed below. Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia) is harvested for lumber in the tropics and cultivated as an ornamental elsewhere. It has escaped cultivation in parts of the south. Tannins and alkaloids are common in this family. Note: Some plants in the Primrose family share the common name "loosestrife."

Key Words: Twice the number of stamens as petals, in two series-short and tall.

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Lythrum salicaria. Purple Loosestrife.

Lythrum salicaria. Purple Loosestrife.

Lythrum salicaria. Purple Loosestrife.

Lythrum salicaria. Purple Loosestrife.

Punica granatum. Pomegranite.

Punica granatum. Pomegranite. Originally native to Iran.

Punica granatum. Pomegranite.

Punica granatum. Pomegranite. Photographed in New Zealand.

There are more
Loosestrife Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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Botany in a Day
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Books
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Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
Roadmap
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Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living
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Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
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