The root system consists of a very thick and hard taproot, and spreading lateral roots. The champion could well be the purple loosestrife, with each plant capable of producing 2 to 3 million seeds annually. What Does Purple Loosestrife Look Like? Purple loosestrife's beauty is deceptive: it is killing our nation's wetlands. Spectacular when in full bloom, Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a vigorous, upright perennial enjoying an extremely long bloom season from late spring to late summer. The plants grow mainly in wet areas. It was well-established in New England by the 1830s, and spread along canals and other waterways. People spread purple loosestrife primarily through the movement of water-related equipment and uninformed release of garden plants. A wetland with lots of purple loosestrife is soon a wetland with little wildlife. Look for purple flowers growing on a spike similar to liatris. The plant produces millions of tiny seeds in shoreland areas. Seeds can be hidden in mud and debris, and can stick to boots, waders, and other fishing and hunting gear. The flowers require pollination by insects, for which it supplies an abundant source of nectar. By the '30s, purple loosestrife was well established along the east coast and spread inland with the construction of waterways, drainage systems, canals, railways and highways. The spikes can be quite tall, up to 6 feet. Purple loosestrife is easiest to identify when it is flowering. These factors allow purple loosestrife to spread rapidly through wetlands and other areas where it chokes out other desirable native vegetation and eliminates open water habitat that is important to wildlife. Purple loosestrife can spread within marsh systems to create monotypic stands. The first published report of purple loosestrife in Manitoba came from the Neepawa area in 1896. It features pink, purple or magenta flowers in dense spikes, up to 18 in. A mature plant can develop into a large clump of stems up to five feet in diameter. Bloom time is mid-summer, from the end of June through the beginning of August. Purple loosestrife affects natural areas by changing wetland physical structure, plant species composition, and even water chemistry. Each stem is four- to six-sided. Introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1800s for ornamental and medical uses, the purple loosestrife has invaded wetlands, crop fields and pastures in virtually every contiguous state in the nation. Purple loosestrife is an erect perennial herb that usually grows two to six feet tall. Growing in dense thickets, loosestrife crowds out native plants that wildlife use for food, nesting, and hiding places, while having little or no value for wildlife itself. BIOLOGY & SPREAD Purple loosestrife enjoys an extended flowering season, generally from June to September, which allows it to produce vast quantities of seed. What you should do. This latter species is a smaller and less aggressive plant with winged stems, while the stems of Purple Loosestrife are usually round (sometimes 4-angled). A Comments: The only other species that is similar to Purple Loosestrife is the native Lythrum alatum (Winged Loosestrife), which also occurs in wetlands. Such a shift in the density and number of species present in a marsh presents challenges to the animal species living in that marsh. Purple loosestrife usually grows to a height of 3 to 7 ft., but it can grow as tall as 12 ft. Purple loosestrife was probably introduced multiple times to North America, both as a contaminant in ship ballast and as an herbal remedy for dysentery, diarrhea, and other digestive ailments. What does purple loosestrife look like? Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is an invasive perennial plant that is spreading rapidly in North American wetlands, shorelines, and roadside ditches. 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