Purple loosestrife was originally sold as an ornamental plant in Nebraska, but after its escape into the state's rivers, wetlands and marshes it was designated a noxious weed in Nebraska in 2001. Despite the sale of "sterile" cultivars by the nursery industry - and even though most owners of ornamental plants never saw any spread or escape in their own landscapes - sterile plants can produce viable seed after pollination by wild loosestrife plants.
Purple loosestrife is extremely difficult to control and once it gets into wetlands and rivers it has the ability to spread very rapidly.
It is a perennial forb that originated in Eurasia and North Africa. It typically produces spikes of rose-purple flowers from July to September. Its ability to produce flowers for an extended time, beginning at the bottom of the each spike and slowly flowering to the top, is one of the reasons it was a popular ornamental plant with homeowners. Unfortunately, this is also one of the reasons it is able to spread so rapidly in rivers and wetlands. Purple loosestrife is capable of producing millions of seeds that may lay dormant in the soil for many years.
Another unique identification characteristic of the plant is its square 4-angled stem.
Lancaster County Weed Control inspectors continue to find ornamental plantings occasionally. Homeowners are encouraged to remove these plants. Individual plants can be hand dug, completely removing all the root system, and put in a closed container to allow the entire plant to completely dry out before placing it in a tightly wrapped dark plastic bag to prevent contamination at the landfill.
Chemical control has proven to be the most effective method to eradicate large infestations.
We need everyone’s help, so if you would like more information on purple loosestrife or would like to report an infestation contact the Lancaster County Weed Control Office.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (402) 441-7817.