FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Lysimachia lanceolata var. purpurea is a slender upright perennial wildflower. Plants are less than 2’ tall with lance shaped opposite leaves. In summer cheerful yellow flower appear in the upper leaf axils. The attractive blossoms are nodding with a starry shape and orange throat. Plants often form small colonies in sunny to partly shaded moist meadows or moist open woods.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Lysimachia lanceolata var. purpurea occurs in Manitoba and Ontario and south from Connecticut to Florida and west to Wisconsin and Texas.
Plants are indigenous to moist to mesic Blackland prairies, sedge meadows, openings in bottomland forests, open rocky woods, gravely seeps, thickets, swamps, pond margins, limestone glades and old fields.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Lysimachia lanceolata var. purpurea is a tap rooted perennial that forms small colonies from underground rhizomes.
Plant forms winter rosettes of long stalked rounded leaves. In spring smooth four angled green to purplish stems rise above the basal foliage.
The stems are clothed in lance shaped opposite leaves. Blades are up to 5” long and 3/4” wide and are either sessile or have very short petioles. They have a smooth margin and light underside. The leaves toward the stem tip appear to be whorled.
In mid-summer 1-4 nodding yellow blooms with ragged or pointed petals appear. Each starry flower is about 3/4” across with 5 petals and an orange center.
The floral display lasts for about a month. After flowering, small sphere shaped capsules with spiky tips form on the stalk.
Plants are 1-2’ tall with an equal spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Lysimachia lanceolata var. purpurea prospers in sunny exposures with moist to mesic loam or clay loam soil.
Plants tolerate part shade, sandy, rocky or compacted soils.
This species is pest resistant and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.
LANDSCAPE USES: Lysimachia lanceolata var. purpurea is a useful Accent, Grouping or Mass planting for a Rock Garden, Wildlife Garden or Perennial Border. Plants have Showy Blooms and are appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Low Maintenance Plantings, moist Meadows and margins of Water Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Lysimachia lanceolata var. purpurea with Anemone canadensis, Aster laevis, Carex crinita, Chelone glabra, Eupatorium coelestinum, Rudbeckia hirta or Silphium perfoliatum.
Senecio aureus is a yellow flowering perennial wildflower that could be substituted in some situations due to comparable height and cultural needs. The bloom time for Senecio aureus occurs in spring, however.
TRIVIA: Lysimachia spp is usually listed as a member of Primulaceae (the Primrose Family). Some respected references recently moved Lysimachia spp. to the Myrsinaceae (Marlberry) family due to the presence of floral resin canals. Lysimachia lanceolata is also known as Lysimachia lanceolata var. angustifolia, Steironema heterophyllum and Steironema lanceolatum.
Like most other plants with nodding flowers, Lysimachia lanceolata is bee pollinated. Bees seem to be more willing than other pollinators to hang upside down while feeding.
Yellow flowered Lysimachia spp. produce a floral oil rather than nectar. Short-tongued bees forage for the oil and collect it along with pollen to feed their larvae.
The curious common name “loosestrife” is a literal translation of the Greek words lysis meaning “loose” or “break apart” and mache meaning “to fight”. The plant was reportedly named, however, for King Lysimachos, ruler of Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon around 323 B.C.