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Short-fruited Willowherb

Epilobium obscurum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Onagraceae (Willowherb)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Ditches, fields, marshes, riversides, rocky places, seaside, wasteland, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Pink, 4 petals
Rose pink flowers with club-shaped stigmas. Flowers each measure up to 1cm across. The petals are notched at the end.
Very narrow, cylindrical fruits (pods), 4 to 6cm in length.
A perennial plant which has a preference for damper habitats. The pale green leaves are broadly oblong and have toothed margins. Unstalked or very short-stalked. Opposite leaves but some of the upper leaves are alternate. Round stems but with raised lines.
Other Names:
Dwarf Willowherb, Obscure Willowherb, Thin Runner Willow Herb.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Epilobium obscurum is a species of flowering plant belonging to the family Onagraceae. It is native to Macaronesia, Northwestern Africa, Europe, and Turkey. The plant has dark green, lance-shaped leaves and small, white or pink flowers. It is commonly found in cultivated or waste ground, marshes, streamsides, and woodland margins. It is a perennial herb, meaning it will come back year after year. The plant is also known as Short-fruited Willowherb, Dwarf Willowherb, Obscure Willowherb, or Thin Runner Willow Herb.


Short-fruited Willowherb (Epilobium obscurum) is a species of flowering plant native to North America, Europe, and Asia. This plant is part of the Onagraceae family and is commonly found in moist habitats such as riverbanks, marshes, and damp meadows.

The Short-fruited Willowherb grows to a height of 30-100 cm and has narrow, lance-shaped leaves that grow opposite one another on the stem. The leaves are green and slightly hairy, and the plant produces delicate pink to magenta flowers that bloom in the summer.

One of the unique features of the Short-fruited Willowherb is its fruit, which is a capsule that opens at the top to release seeds. The capsule is only about 1 cm long, which gives the plant its common name, “Short-fruited” Willowherb.

The Short-fruited Willowherb is a hardy plant that is able to adapt to a wide range of growing conditions. It is drought-tolerant and able to grow in nutrient-poor soils, making it a popular choice for landscaping and wildflower gardens.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Short-fruited Willowherb has medicinal properties. The plant contains a number of compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, making it a potential treatment for conditions such as skin irritations, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

The Short-fruited Willowherb is a beautiful and versatile plant that is well worth adding to your garden or wildflower meadow. With its delicate pink flowers and unique fruit, it is sure to bring a touch of beauty to any setting, and its potential health benefits make it a valuable addition to any botanical collection.

The Short-fruited Willowherb is also an important plant for wildlife, providing food and habitat for a variety of animals. The nectar produced by the plant is a valuable source of food for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, while the seeds provide a source of food for birds and other wildlife.

The Short-fruited Willowherb is also an important plant for wetland ecosystems, as it helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. The root system of the plant is deep and extensive, which allows it to absorb and retain water, reducing the risk of flooding and maintaining the health of the surrounding environment.

When planting Short-fruited Willowherb, it is important to choose a location that is moist and has good drainage. The plant prefers full sun to partial shade, and it is best to plant it in a soil that is rich in organic matter.

It is also important to note that the Short-fruited Willowherb can become invasive in some areas, so it is important to monitor its growth and take steps to prevent it from spreading if necessary.

The Short-fruited Willowherb is a versatile and beautiful plant that has a range of ecological, ornamental, and medicinal uses. Whether you are looking to create a wildflower meadow, a beautiful garden, or a source of natural remedies, the Short-fruited Willowherb is definitely worth considering.

Additionally, the Short-fruited Willowherb is an important plant for indigenous cultures, who have used it for traditional medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including skin irritations, wounds, and respiratory problems.

The plant's medicinal properties are thought to come from the compounds it contains, such as flavonoids and tannins, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. In addition to its medicinal uses, the plant has also been used for food and forage for livestock.

While the Short-fruited Willowherb is a valuable and useful plant, it is also important to conserve it for future generations. The plant is listed as a species of concern in some states, as it is threatened by habitat destruction, degradation, and over-collection for medicinal and ornamental purposes.

To protect the Short-fruited Willowherb, it is important to conserve its habitat and promote sustainable use of the plant. This can include preserving wetlands and riverbanks, protecting against over-collection, and implementing sustainable practices in agriculture and landscaping.

In conclusion, the Short-fruited Willowherb is an important and valuable plant that has a range of ecological, ornamental, medicinal, and cultural uses. By conserving this plant and promoting sustainable practices, we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy its many benefits.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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