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Lysimachia ephemerum.
Lysimachia ephemerum. / Sur

Silver Loosestrife

  • Silver Loosestrife is a bushy, non-invasive perennial with narrow grey-green leaves and tapering spikes of star shaped, white flowers in summer

Lysimachia ephemerum, also called Willow-leaved or Silver Loosestrife, is a member of the Primulaceae family and native to Southwest Europe. It grows wild in some parts of Spain, usually on banks of streams.
Unlike Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum clethroides) which is classed as a noxious weed due to its invasive nature, Silver Loosestrife does not spread itself around the garden. The genus Lysimachia has around 193 species, most needing moist growing conditions and the majority with yellow flowers. Exceptions are the beautiful Lysimachia atropurpurea which has deep red or purple flowers and white ‘gooseneck’ L. clethroides and L. ephemerum.
Silver Loosestrife forms a bushy, upright clump which will take between three to five years to reach maturity. Maximum height is a metre by about half a metre wide and in windy areas it may need staking. It has attractive grey-green foliage; the leaves are long and narrow and can grow to about 15cm long by 2cm wide.
The pretty spikes of white flowers with pink stamens open throughout the summer and make an excellent cut flower. They also attract pollinating insects into the garden. Some varieties are grown commercially specifically for the florist industry.
L. atropurpurea

L. atropurpurea / Sur

The flowers are followed by seed heads of round brown seed capsules, the seeds are usually viable but the easiest way to propagate Silver Loosestrife is by division. The clumps can be lifted when dormant (it is not an evergreen and in cold areas may die back to the ground) in the winter and split into separate, smaller pieces before being replanted. Although it can be grown at the back of cottage garden style plantings it can also be grown in containers or as a specimen plant.
It is not fussy about soil but is not drought tolerant and the compost should never be allowed to dry out completely between waterings.
Loosestrife apparently got its name from ‘Art of Simpling’ written by William Cole in 1656 where he described the plant being fed to oxen to stop them fighting.