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American Willowherb

Epilobium ciliatum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Onagraceae (Willowherb)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Bogs, cliffs, ditches, fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, marshes, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, scrub, swamps, towns, wasteland, wetland, woodland.

Pink, 4 petals
4 pale pink to purple notched petals, gaps between the petals. Club-shaped stigma.
Long and linear, 4-valved, tubular seed pods. The ridged seeds are also plumed.
The leaves are opposite along the stem. Basal leaves are also present. The hairless and very short-stalked leaves are ovate with rounded bases and they taper into a point. The margins of the leaves are serrated.
Other Names:
Fringed Willowherb, Hairy Willowherb, Northern Willowherb, Purple-leaved Willowherb, Slender Willowherb.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Epilobium ciliatum, commonly known as fringed willowherb, American willowherb, slender willow herb, and northern willow herb, is a species of flowering plant in the evening primrose family Onagraceae. It is native to North America, but has become a weed of container nurseries. It is a perennial herb that can grow up to 90 cm tall, and has pinkish-white flowers with four petals. The leaves are lanceolate or oblong in shape and are covered in small hairs. The plant thrives in moist conditions, including meadows, shores, river banks, floodplains, marshes, swamps, bogs, forest edges, and cliffs.


American Willowherb, scientifically known as Epilobium ciliatum, is a wildflower species native to North America. It is a member of the Onagraceae family and is commonly found in moist habitats such as meadows, marshes, and along stream banks.

The plant is characterized by its tall, slender stem that can grow up to 4 feet in height. The leaves are long, narrow, and lance-shaped with serrated edges. In late summer, clusters of pink or purplish flowers bloom and are a favorite food source for pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

American Willowherb is considered a hardy plant, as it is able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It is commonly found in a variety of habitats, from damp lowlands to high-elevation meadows. The plant is also capable of spreading rapidly, which can help to stabilize stream banks and reduce soil erosion.

In addition to its ecological benefits, American Willowherb also has a number of medicinal uses. The plant's leaves and stems contain high levels of flavonoids, compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some indigenous cultures in North America have used American Willowherb to treat conditions such as respiratory problems and skin irritations.

Despite its widespread distribution and versatility, American Willowherb is not commonly cultivated in gardens or for ornamental purposes. This is due in part to its weedy nature, as it can be difficult to control once established. However, for those who are looking to create a wildflower meadow or attract pollinators to their garden, American Willowherb can be a valuable addition.

American Willowherb is a fascinating plant that plays an important role in North American ecosystems. Its versatility and adaptability make it a valuable species for maintaining healthy habitats, while its medicinal properties highlight the importance of preserving and utilizing traditional knowledge. Whether it's admired for its ecological benefits or utilized for its medicinal properties, American Willowherb is a plant worth knowing and appreciating.

Another aspect of American Willowherb is its relationship with fire. The plant is highly adapted to survive and even benefit from fire. Its seeds are able to withstand high temperatures and will often germinate after a fire, allowing it to quickly establish itself in the burned area. This ability makes American Willowherb a valuable species for restoring habitats that have been damaged by fire.

In some parts of its range, American Willowherb is considered an invasive species. This is due to its ability to outcompete native plant species and alter the composition of natural habitats. However, this is not always the case, as the plant can also play a valuable role in maintaining healthy ecosystems by reducing soil erosion and providing food and habitat for pollinators.

Given its ecological significance and versatility, American Willowherb is a species that should be monitored and managed carefully. In areas where it is considered invasive, it is important to control its spread, while in areas where it is valued, efforts should be made to protect and conserve this valuable plant species.

Finally, American Willowherb can be appreciated for its beauty as well as its ecological and medicinal values. Its tall stems and clusters of pink or purplish flowers make it a visually appealing plant, especially when grown in large colonies. Whether it is admired for its beauty, utilized for its medicinal properties, or valued for its ecological significance, American Willowherb is a fascinating species that deserves to be recognized and appreciated.

American Willowherb is also known to have potential uses in horticulture and landscaping. Its tall, slender stem and delicate flowers make it an attractive addition to wildflower gardens, naturalistic landscaping, and meadow gardens. When grown in large colonies, American Willowherb can create a spectacular display of color and texture.

In addition to its ornamental uses, American Willowherb can also be used as a natural remedy for various ailments. Its leaves and stems contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a valuable plant for medicinal purposes. Traditional cultures in North America have used American Willowherb for the treatment of respiratory problems and skin irritations, among other conditions.

Given its ecological, ornamental, and medicinal values, American Willowherb is a species that deserves to be protected and conserved. Efforts should be made to ensure that this valuable plant is not lost due to habitat destruction or over-harvesting for medicinal purposes.

In conclusion, American Willowherb is a versatile and fascinating plant species that plays an important role in North American ecosystems. Whether it is admired for its beauty, valued for its ecological significance, or utilized for its medicinal properties, American Willowherb is a species that deserves to be recognized and appreciated. With proper management and conservation efforts, this valuable plant species will continue to play a vital role in the health and beauty of North American habitats for generations to come.


American Willowherb in Lancashire on the 29th August 2022.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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