Glory's Garden

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lysmachia- Purple Loosestrife

I promised a tirade discussion on the much maligned Lysmachia Purple Loosestrife. I'll try to make it brief, but I make no promises.

I bought a Lysmachia purple loosestrife back when my garden was very new and I went looking for new and different perennials, of which I knew little. Lysmachia was one of them. I bought two kinds--Creeping Jenny-- aka Lysimachia nummularia-- and Purple Loosestrife-- Lysmachia salicaria-- in a garden center near where my in-laws resided, in Mountain Top. I loved that garden center. It helped that it was a nice treat after spending time with people who---let's see, how to put this delicately-- Well, there was no love lost between us.

Tom and I wondered around looking at the lovely garden displays getting ideas, but this one time the perennials were mostly all dormant. Don't recall if it was early spring or late autumn, but I do know the perennials were all on super duper sale and we bought quite a few. I had no idea what most of them were, and I didn't care. They would come back each spring and that's all I needed to know. I would discover what they were like then.

The wisdom of such an attitude shall be discussed at a later date.

Loved by many a buzzing bug and butterfly

Purple Loosestrife turned out to be rather nice. It was relatively tall--3-4 feet high. The foliage was a non-distinct medium green, 3-5 inches long, narrow leaves with no remarkable veining to make it endlessly interesting, but not entirely unattractive either. It was the tall orchid colored flower stalks which made the plant a beauty from mid-late summer and a haven for every bee, butterfly and buzzing bug there is.

It was only after I had this plant for five or six years that I was told it was an invasive species and that it was banned from being sold in may states, mostly in the southern part of the USA. I couldn't figure out how this could be. I had never so much as saw the plant--the one I bought at the garden center-- drop a seed or spread in any way.

Of course, that may have been because in the early days of gardening I was a diligent dead-header. So, no seeds got the chance to drop and spread. Even so, I wasn't inundated with zillions of Purple Loosestrife once I allowed seeds to develop. I do have a few more plants now--possibly 3-4 plants scattered about the various garden beds, but nothing to declare a national emergency and call in the DISB--aka Drastically Invasive Species Brigade.

Anyway, it was during a long ride through Pennsylvania and into New York that I saw long stretches of swampy land turned a pretty rosy purple and when I looked closer, it was indeed the very same Lysmachia Purple Loosestrife I had back at home. As it turns out there are many different Lysmachia varieties which are considered invasive. most of them invade swampy areas and take over, but the one thing they don't talk about is how beloved they are for bees, butterflies and other buzzing insects.

Lysmachia purple loosestrife, as far as my garden is concerned, is not the nemesis it is said to be. Believe me, I have far more invasive species in my gardens and I'll never ever hear any of them considered such. Whatever!

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