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New Zealand Willowherb

Epilobium brunnescens

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Onagraceae (Willowherb)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres long
Bogs, cliffs, gardens, mountains, roadsides, rocky places, walls, wasteland, waterside.

Pink, 4 petals
Flowers range from pale pink to white, having 4 deeply notched petals. They exist solitary, on very distinctive long stalks. Stalks up to 4cm in length. Sepals reddish.
Very distinctive, erect seed pods, up to 8cm long.
Mat-forming. Almost circular and unstalked. Toothed and bronze-green above, purplish below.
Other Names:
Brown-stem Willowherb.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Epilobium brunnescens is a flowering plant belonging to the willowherb genus Epilobium in the family Onagraceae. It is a small, creeping, perennial plant with single-flowered inflorescences that are pink to purple in color. It is native to New Zealand, but is now common in the British Isles and is found in upland areas. It prefers moist open areas on gravel, gritty, or stony soils, and is able to grow on a variety of substrates ranging from acidic to very base-rich. Its stems are marked with strigillose hairs running down from the margins of the petioles, and its pedicel usually completes elongation before the flower drops off.


Epilobium brunnescens: A Rare and Endangered Wildflower

Epilobium brunnescens, also known as the brown-stem willowherb, is a rare and endangered wildflower species that belongs to the Onagraceae family. It is native to the western United States and can be found in the arid regions of California, Nevada, and Utah.

One of the unique characteristics of E. brunnescens is its ability to grow in challenging environments. It can thrive in areas with high salt concentrations, high temperatures, and low soil moisture levels. This makes it an ideal plant species for reforestation efforts in degraded or disturbed areas.

E. brunnescens is a herbaceous perennial plant that can grow up to two feet tall. Its leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, and covered with fine hairs. The flowers are pink to purple in color and bloom from June to September. The species is pollinated by insects, including bees and butterflies.

The rarity and endangerment of E. brunnescens are due to several factors, including habitat loss, competition from invasive species, and overgrazing by livestock. The species is considered vulnerable and is protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore the species' natural habitats, including the removal of invasive species, protection from livestock grazing, and seed collection and propagation programs.

E. brunnescens is an important species in the western United States and has significant ecological and cultural value. It is a critical component of the western sagebrush steppe ecosystem and provides food and habitat for many wildlife species, including pollinators and bird species. Additionally, the plant has a long history of use by Native American communities for medicinal and cultural purposes.

E. brunnescens is a rare and endangered wildflower species that plays an important role in the western United States' ecosystem and cultural heritage. Conservation efforts are needed to protect and restore its natural habitats and ensure the survival of this unique and valuable plant species.

As a plant species that has evolved to survive in arid environments, E. brunnescens is a model for understanding the ecological and physiological adaptations that enable plants to survive in challenging conditions. Researchers have studied the plant's water-use efficiency, salt tolerance, and heat tolerance, with the goal of improving our understanding of how plants can survive in harsh environments.

E. brunnescens is also a valuable species for land restoration efforts, as it can be used to help stabilize and revegetate degraded and disturbed landscapes. The plant has a deep root system that helps to prevent soil erosion, and its ability to thrive in salty or dry soils makes it an ideal species for revegetating areas that have been impacted by human activities, such as mining or road construction.

In addition to its ecological and scientific value, E. brunnescens also has cultural significance. The plant has a long history of use by Native American communities for medicinal purposes, and it is considered to have spiritual and cultural importance by many tribes. The protection and preservation of E. brunnescens and its habitats is therefore an important aspect of cultural conservation, as well as species conservation.

Epilobium brunnescens is a rare and endangered wildflower species that is of great value to the western United States. Its ability to thrive in challenging environments, its ecological and cultural significance, and its potential for land restoration efforts make it a valuable and important species to protect and conserve. Efforts to protect and restore E. brunnescens habitats and populations are important for both ecological and cultural conservation, and for ensuring the survival of this unique and valuable plant species.

E. brunnescens is a valuable species not just for its ecological and cultural significance, but also for its ornamental value. The pink to purple flowers and tall, narrow leaves make it an attractive addition to native plant gardens and wildflower meadows. The plant is relatively easy to care for, and is low maintenance once established. It is drought-tolerant and does not require frequent watering, making it a suitable choice for gardeners who are looking for water-wise plant species.

E. brunnescens can be propagated from seed, and seed-grown plants are widely available from nurseries and online plant retailers. While E. brunnescens is not commonly found in cultivation, it is a valuable species for those interested in native plants, wildflowers, or restoring degraded landscapes.

In conclusion, Epilobium brunnescens is a rare and endangered wildflower species that is of great ecological, cultural, and ornamental value. Its ability to survive in challenging environments, its attractive flowers and leaves, and its low-maintenance nature make it a valuable species for conservation, land restoration, and gardening. Efforts to protect and conserve E. brunnescens and its habitats will help ensure the survival of this important plant species and the valuable benefits it provides.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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