Picture Resource: David Nicholls - Lea Meadows - 07 July 2011
Belonging to the botanic family Onagraceae, this plant species is native to Europe (till southern Sweeden), North Africa, Mediterranean area and parts of Asia. It is, however, introduced in Australia and in the United States. Epilobium hirsutum is commonly known as the great willowherb, great hairy willowherb or hairy willowherb. This species is widespread and abundant throughout much of its European range and it shows to be increasing as a non-native plant.
Epilobium hirsutum is a 50-120 cm tall, perennial plant. The robust stems are hairy with soft spreading hairs. The hairy leaves are 2–12 cm long, thin and are widest below the middle. They have sharply hooked toothed edges pointing forward. The flowers have four purple-pink petals, which are 10–16 mm long. The stigma is white, with four lobes and the sepals are green. This plant species flowers from June to September. Several insects forage on the flowers, including different bee species, playing a role on pollination. This plant leaves are also important as food resource for many species of insects, including the lepidopteron elephant howk-moth, Deilephila elpenor.
Epilobium hirsutum, or the great willowherb is found growing in a wide range of wetland habitats, such seasonally inundated depressions, lake and pond margins, rivers, streams, irrigation lane and ditches. Furthermore, although this plant can be poisonous, it has been used as an astringent. In addition, the leaves are used for making tea in Russia.
Other names: hairy willowherb, codlins and cream.
IUCN red list status: least concern
Local status: least concern