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Hoary Willowherb

Epilobium parviflorum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Onagraceae (Willowherb)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, fields, marshes, meadows, mountains, roadsides, wasteland, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Pink, 4 petals
The flowers of Hoary Willowherb, also known as Epilobium parviflorum, are typically small and delicate. They have four petals and come in various shades of pink and lavender. These flowers form clusters at the top of the plant's stem and are known for their subtle beauty. The petals are often narrow and elegantly shaped, making them attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies.
The fruit of Hoary Willowherb consists of slender seed capsules. These capsules are elongated and contain numerous tiny seeds. As the fruit matures, it splits open to release the seeds, which are dispersed by the wind. The seeds are small and lightweight, facilitating their distribution to new areas.
The leaves of Hoary Willowherb are lance-shaped and typically covered in fine, silvery hairs, giving them a "hoary" appearance. They are arranged alternately along the stems. These leaves have a soft, velvety texture due to the fine hairs and are green in color. The size and shape of the leaves can vary, with younger leaves often being smaller and more narrow compared to the mature ones.
The fragrance of Hoary Willowherb is generally described as delicate, subtle, and slightly sweet. It is not known for having a strong or overpowering scent. Some people may not notice its fragrance unless they get very close to the plant's flowers.
Other Names:
Codlins and Cream, Hairy Willowherb, Small-flower Hairy Willowherb, Small-flowered Hairy Willowherb.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Epilobium parviflorum, commonly known as the hoary willowherb or smallflower hairy willowherb, is a herbaceous perennial plant of the family Onagraceae. It is native to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, but has been introduced to North America, where it is considered an invasive species. It is traditionally used as a medicinal herb, with many studies showing it to possess a range of therapeutic effects, including anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities. It is also known to be effective in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).


Hoary Willowherb, also known as Epilobium parviflorum, is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the Onagraceae family. This plant is native to North America and can be found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, open woods, and along streams and rivers.

Hoary Willowherb is a deciduous plant that grows to a height of 2 to 4 feet. It has slender stems that are covered in small, hair-like leaves and delicate flowers that range in color from pale pink to purple. The flowers are arranged in clusters at the end of the stems and are typically in full bloom from June to August.

One of the most notable features of Hoary Willowherb is its ability to quickly colonize disturbed areas. This has made it a popular choice for restoring damaged landscapes and stabilizing soil along riverbanks. It is also a valuable source of nectar for pollinators, making it an important component of healthy ecosystems.

In addition to its ecological benefits, Hoary Willowherb has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Native American tribes used the plant to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory and skin conditions. Modern research has confirmed that the plant does indeed have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potentially valuable resource for treating a range of conditions.

Hoary Willowherb is a versatile and valuable plant that offers numerous benefits to the environment and to human health. Whether you are looking to restore a damaged landscape or simply enjoy the beauty of its delicate flowers, this species is definitely worth considering.

Despite its many benefits, Hoary Willowherb is considered an invasive species in some parts of the world, particularly in Europe and Asia. This is due to its ability to spread rapidly and displace native vegetation, which can have negative effects on local ecosystems.

To prevent the spread of Hoary Willowherb and minimize its impact on native habitats, it is important to use caution when planting this species. In areas where it is not native, it is best to grow it in containers or in designated areas where its spread can be controlled.

In addition, it is important to monitor populations of Hoary Willowherb and take action to control its spread if necessary. This may involve removing individual plants or implementing management strategies to prevent seed dispersal.

Despite these challenges, Hoary Willowherb remains a valuable and interesting species that is well worth exploring. Whether you are a gardener, a naturalist, or simply someone who loves the beauty of nature, this plant is sure to captivate you with its delicate flowers and versatile abilities.

30 Hoary Willowherb Facts

  1. Hoary Willowherb, scientifically known as Epilobium parviflorum, is a delicate and fascinating wildflower.

  2. It is native to many parts of North America and Eurasia.

  3. This plant is often found in open woodlands, meadows, and along the edges of streams.

  4. Hoary Willowherb is known for its slender stems, which can grow up to 3 feet (1 metre) tall.

  5. The leaves of this plant are lance-shaped and covered in fine, silvery hairs, giving it a "hoary" appearance.

  6. It produces small, delicate flowers that range in colour from pale pink to lavender.

  7. The flowers have four petals and form in clusters at the top of the stem.

  8. Hoary Willowherb is often visited by pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

  9. It is a hardy plant that can thrive in a variety of soil types.

  10. Hoary Willowherb is a pioneer species, meaning it is one of the first plants to colonise disturbed areas like abandoned fields or clear-cut forests.

  11. Indigenous peoples in North America have used Hoary Willowherb for its medicinal properties, often using it to treat digestive issues.

  12. The plant's scientific name, Epilobium, comes from the Greek word "epi," meaning "upon," and "lobos," meaning "a pod." This refers to the way the plant's seeds are held above the leaves.

  13. In some regions, Hoary Willowherb is considered a weed due to its ability to spread quickly.

  14. Hoary Willowherb is a valuable food source for various wildlife, including deer and rabbits, who graze on its leaves.

  15. The seeds of this plant are tiny and are dispersed by the wind.

  16. Hoary Willowherb can grow in both full sun and partial shade.

  17. It is known by various common names, including Smallflower Hairy Willowherb and Smallflower Willowherb.

  18. The plant's flowers are typically about 1/4 inch (6 mm) in diameter.

  19. Hoary Willowherb has a taproot system, which helps it survive in nutrient-poor soils.

  20. Some cultures have used the fibres from Hoary Willowherb stems to make cordage and baskets.

  21. In Finland, Hoary Willowherb is considered one of the 20 most important nectar plants for honeybees.

  22. It is a member of the evening primrose family, Onagraceae.

  23. Hoary Willowherb is often found in disturbed habitats like roadsides and ditches.

  24. The plant's seeds are an essential food source for many small birds.

  25. It has a relatively short lifespan, typically living for two to three years.

  26. Hoary Willowherb is considered a pioneer species in ecological succession, helping prepare the soil for other plants to establish themselves.

  27. In some cultures, the plant has been used to make herbal teas with potential medicinal benefits.

  28. Its fine, silvery hairs on leaves and stems help reduce water loss through transpiration.

  29. Hoary Willowherb is an example of a species that can thrive in areas with human disturbance, making it a common sight in urban environments.

  30. It has a delicate and understated beauty that makes it a favourite among wildflower enthusiasts and photographers.


Hoary Willowherb filmed around the Chorley area of Lancashire in many locations throughout July 2023.


Music credits
An Upsetting Theme - The Descent by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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