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Vascular Plants of California
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Lythrum salicaria

Higher Taxonomy
Family: LythraceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, shrub, tree. Stem: 4-angled or cylindric. Leaf: simple, entire, generally opposite, 4-ranked (alternate, whorled). Inflorescence: flowers terminal or in axils of upper leaves or leaf-like bracts, 1 or in +- dense cymes or along short shoots, sessile or not, subtended by [0]2 bractlets. Flower: bisexual, generally radial; hypanthium bell-shaped to cylindric, membranous or leathery, persistent in fruit; sepals appearing as hypanthium lobes, 4--9, epicalyx lobes alternate sepals or 0; petals, stamens inserted on inner hypanthium; petals 4--6 or 0, alternate sepals, crinkled, deciduous; stamens generally = or 2 × sepals, included or exserted; ovary generally superior, chambers 2--6[many], style generally slender, stigma head-like. Fruit: dry capsule or leathery berry, dehiscent into 2--4 valves or irregularly. Seed: 3--many.
Genera In Family: +- 28 genera, 600 species: temperate, tropics, generally in wet habitats. Some ornamental or cultivated for medicine, dyes. Note: "Epicalyx lobes" (lobes on calyx) formerly called "appendages," "hypanthium" in Lythraceae (and Onagraceae) including receptacle, sometimes called "flower cup" or "flower tube". Punicaceae (Punica) included here.
eFlora Treatment Author: Shirley A. Graham
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: LythrumView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual, perennial herb. Stem: prostrate to erect, often 4-angled. Leaf: opposite, alternate, or whorled, linear to ovate or obovate, petiole 0 to short. Inflorescence: flowers generally 1--2 per axil, sessile or not. Flower: radial to +- bilateral, of 1--3 style forms (heterostylous); hypanthium cylindric or bell-shaped, ribs generally conspicuous; sepals 4--6, deltate, epicalyx lobes < to > sepals; petals 4--6 or 0; stamens 4--6 or 12, included or exserted; styles < to > stamens. Fruit: capsule, generally cylindric, rarely spheric, valves 2. Seed: many, < 1 mm.
Etymology: (Greek: clotted blood, from use of Lythrum salicaria, the first named sp., to stop hemorrhaging, according to Gerard, Bull Torrey Bot Club 12: 60. 1885)
Reference: Houghton-Thompson et al. 2005 Ann Bot (London) 96:877--885
Lythrum salicaria L.
Habit: Perennial herb, heterostylous. Stem: erect, 5--15 dm, gray-puberulent; branches few. Leaf: 5--14 cm, sessile, truncate at base, lanceolate to +- ovate. Inflorescence: flowers > 2 per axil, in dense, +- sessile cymes; pedicel 0--2 mm. Flower: of 3 style forms; hypanthium 4--6 mm, cylindric, 2+ × longer than wide; sepals < 1 mm, epicalyx lobes linear, >= sepals; petals 7--14 mm, red-purple; stamens 12, included or exserted; style included or exserted. Fruit: ovoid, < hypanthium. Chromosomes: 2n=30,50,60.
Ecology: Marshes, ponds, streambanks; Elevation: < 1000 m. Bioregional Distribution: s NCo, NCoRO, n SNF, ScV, CCo, nw MP; Distribution Outside California: worldwide; native to Europe; cultivated for ornament. Flowering Time: May--Oct
Jepson eFlora Author: Shirley A. Graham
Reference: Houghton-Thompson et al. 2005 Ann Bot (London) 96:877--885
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Noxious Weed listed on the CDFA Weed Pest Ratings table
View the CDFA Pest Rating page for Lythrum salicaria
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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Botanical illustration including Lythrum salicaria

botanical illustration including Lythrum salicaria

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Citation for this treatment: Shirley A. Graham 2012, Lythrum salicaria, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 13, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 13, 2024.

Lythrum salicaria
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©2016 Keir Morse
Lythrum salicaria
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©2005 George W. Hartwell
Lythrum salicaria
click for enlargement
©2016 Keir Morse
Lythrum salicaria
click for enlargement
©2016 Keir Morse
Lythrum salicaria
click for enlargement
©2016 Keir Morse

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Geographic subdivisions for Lythrum salicaria:
s NCo, NCoRO, n SNF, ScV, CCo, nw MP
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).