The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc.

Plants of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

The oldest public wildflower garden in the United States


Common Name
Fringed Loosestrife


Scientific Name
Lysimachia ciliata L.


Plant Family
Myrsine (Myrsinaceae)

Garden Location


Prime Season
Early to Late Summer Flowering



Fringed Loosestrife is a plant that tolerates shady areas. This tall erect native perennial, growing 1 to 4 feet high on smooth stems is sometimes branched near the top.

The leaves are opposite, egg shaped to lanceolate, and on stalks that have a slight wing with fine hair on the stalk and stem node. The leaf surface is not dotted.

The inflorescence consists of solitary flowers on long stalks rising from the upper leaf axils - not necessarily in a whorl.

The flowers are five-part up to 1 inch wide, somewhat nodding; the yellow corolla is deeply lobed into 5 petals that are spreading, thin, not streaked with resin canals, and at the tip have a point, or tooth; the green sepals of the calyx are narrow, spreading, and have 3 to 5 parallel reddish-brown veins but not streaked with resin canals. The inside surfaces of the petals have stipitate-glandular hair. Sepals are much shorter than the petals. The corolla petals usually join to a reddish eye at the center. The five stamens have yellow filaments and anthers, are shorter than the corolla and are united to just short of the anthers. The stamens alternate with very short infertile stamens (staminodes). The ovary is green with a green style.

Seed: At maturity a single round smooth capsule is formed with the sepals persistent. It turns brown at maturity and opens into five sections. Seeds require 60 days of cold stratification plus light for germination.


Habitat: Fringed Loosestrife is a plant of moist woodlands and meadows with wet-mesic to mesic moisture conditions. It flowers sun to shade, best in light shade, and grows from slender rhizomes. It will tolerate full sunlight if plenty of moisture is available. Numerous plants will be found along Violet Way in the Woodland Garden blooming in early July.

Names: Fringed Loosestrife was formerly slotted into the Primrose family (Primulaceae), but the change to Myrsine is explained at the page bottom. The genus name is from the Greek for either king Lysimachus or from lysis meaning "a release from" and mache is for "strife". The legend is that Lysimachus, king of Sicily, was walking through a field. A bull chased him. He grabbed a loosestrife plant, waved it in front of the bull and it calmed the bull. In general then, both the common and the generic name refers to a supposed power to soothe animals or "loose" them of their "strife". The species, ciliata, means 'fringed with hairs' as are the leaf stalks and stem nodes of this Loosestrife.

The author name for the plant classification form 1753 - 'L.' is for Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist and the developer of the binomial nomenclature of modern taxonomy. Over past years a number of botanists have published other names for the species, but that of Linnaeus still holds. Some of those now unaccepted names are: Steironema cilatum, S. longipedicellatum, S. pumilum, Lysimachia greeneana and Nummularia ciliata.

Comparisons: A close relative that grows in the Upland Garden is Whorled Loosestrife, Lysimachia quadrifolia , where the leaves are in a whorl and the flower corolla is slightly different and the flowers don't nod.

See bottom of page for notes on the Garden's planting history, distribution in Minnesota and North America, lore and other references.

Fringed Loosestrife Fringed Loosestrife

Above & Below: The yellow lobes of the corolla are deeply divided into 5 petals that are spreading, thin, not streaked, and at the tip have a point, or tooth

Below: 2nd photo - The green sepals of the flower are much shorter than the petals.

Flower Fringed Loosestrife Sepals

Below: 1st photo - Five stamens alternate with 5 infertile stamens and surround the ovary with its yellow-green style. 2nd photo - Seed capsules of late August.

Stamens Fringed Loosestrife Berry

Below: 1st photo - Lower leaves can be long and linear while upper leaves (photo above) are more ovate. 2nd photo - The leaf stalks have fine hair, especially where they meet the stem.

leaf Stem hair


Notes: Fringed Loosestrife is indigenous to the Garden area. Eloise Butler catalogued it on May 8, 1910. On that date she was planting several of these plants that she obtained in Osceola, WI when she discovered that it was not only indigenous but abundant in the Garden. On Sept. 15, 1919 she found some near the Belt-line Bridge and brought them in. More were planted in 1931. In her day and in her record the botanical name was Steironema cilatum. Martha Crone added plants in 1945. The plant is native to Minnesota in nearly all counties. In North America it is found throughout the lower Canadian Provinces and most states of the U.S. except CA, AZ, NV and LA.

Fourteen species of Lysimachia are of record in Minnesota per the U of M Herbarium as of 2018; several have not been collected in recent decades. Ten are still listed currently by the DNR on their plant surveys. Of those nine are native, one is introduced. The species of Lysimachia of record in the Garden, current and historical, are: Starflower, L. borealis; Fringed Loosestrife, Lysimachia ciliata; Moneywort, L. nummularia (the introduced species); Prairie Loosestrife, Lysimachia quadriflora; Whorled Loosestrife, L. quadrifolia; Swamp Candles, Lysimachia terrestis; Tufted Loosestrife, Lysimachia thyrsiflora; Garden Loosestrife, Lysimachia vulgaris.

Family Change: Some of the leading references have moved the species of Lysimachia from the Primrose (Primulaceae) family into another plant family - Myrsinaceae, following the lead of Flora of North America (FNA) (Ref. #W-7). The U of M Checklist of the Vascular Flora of Minnesota (Ref.#28C) follows this classification. FNA states: “M. Källersjö et al. (2000) and B. Ståhl and A. A. Anderberg (2004) removed the nonrosette terrestrial members from Primulaceae in the broad sense and placed them in the Myrsinaceae, which are further distinguished by leaves and calyx often dotted with yellow or dark streaks, flowers with relatively shorter corolla tubes, seeds immersed in placentae, and wood devoid of rays or with multiseriate only.”

Lore: As explained above, the common perception that the plant has soothing powers over animals led people to tie a branch to the yolk of oxen, making them easier to handle. The plant is known to repel gnats and other irritating insects which maybe explains why the animals were easier to handle. Pliny the elder wrote that the odor of loosestrife would keep snakes away.

References and site links

References: Plant characteristics are generally from sources 1A, 32, W2, W3, W7 & W8 plus others as specifically applied. Distribution principally from W1, W2 and 28C. Planting history generally from 1, 4 & 4a. Other sources by specific reference. See Reference List for details.

graphicIdentification booklet for most of the flowering forbs and small flowering shrubs of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. Details Here.