Lythrum salicaria, or purple loosestrife, is a flowering plant belonging to the family Lythraceae. Other names include spiked loosestrife and purple lythrum. Genus name comes from the Greek word lythron meaning blood with reference to the flowers.
Lythrum salicaria, commonly called purple loosestrife, is a clump-forming wetland perennial that is native to Europe and Asia. It is believed to have been first introduced into the U.S. from seed contained in ships’ ballast, and it became established in certain estuaries in the northeastern states by the early 1800s. Although many alien invasive plants have naturalized by escaping gardens, purple loosestrife basically began naturalizing on its own in rural areas. It has gradually spread throughout much of the United States, particularly in marshes, swamps, pond peripheries, ditches and wet meadows. In full flower, a colony of purple loosestrife produces spectacular bloom. The problem is that it is so invasive that it can rapidly colonize wet areas and both choke out native vegetation and destroy wildlife habitat. It typically grows 2-4’ tall on stiff upright stems.