Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Winged Loosestrife - Lythrum lanceolatum   Elliott
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Section 6 » Family Lythraceae
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AuthorElliott
DistributionStrictly in the southeastern corner of the state, north to Pender County. However, there are a few records for southeastern VA, and thus it could occur in the eastern and northeastern Coastal Plain of NC. In 2018 a small population was photographed in Lee County by J. Randolph (image attached here); it perhaps is not a natural occurrence.

This is a Southern species, ranging from southeastern VA, south to southern FL and west to southern TX.
AbundanceRare, in the southeastern corner of the state. This is a State Significantly Rare species.
HabitatThis species seems to require somewhat "limey" soil, underlain by marl, growing in damp places in full sun or partial sun. It grows in ditches, damp fields and clearings, in fresh marshes, and openings in low woods.
PhenologyBlooms from May to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a stout, rather tall herb, growing to about 3-4' tall, with a few basal branches. The branches are virgate, coming off at roughly a 45-degree angle to the stem. The numerous leaves are opposite on the lower portions but alternate on the branches, lanceolate to elliptic, the lower ones about 2" long but ones on branches shorter. The flowers grow singly in upper leaf axils, each with 6 petals, equally spread apart, elliptical, pink in color, and a spread of about 2/5" across. The strongly virgate branches on the rather tall stem, and the 6-petalled pink flowers, should safely identify a plant to this or to the similar L. lineare in NC. That species has mostly opposite stem leaves and on the branches, and they are linear in shape, only about 1/8" wide; the leaves are mostly shorter than the internode distance between stem leaves. L. lanceolatum has the leaves alternate on the branches, though they can be opposite on the lower stem; the leaves are wider (often about 1/3" wide), and are mostly longer than the internodes. Also, L. lineare is a plant of brackish marshes, as opposed to damp ground in freshwater settings for L. lanceolatum.
Taxonomic CommentsMany or most references include this with the very wide-ranging L. alatum, typically as a variety -- L. alatum var. lanceolatum. Both Weakley (2018) and RAB (1968) have it split off, but NatureServe does not.

Other Common Name(s)Winged Loosestrife -- the usual common name for L. alatum. Wing-angled Loosestrife, Winged Lythrum
State RankS1
Global RankG5T5 [G5]
State StatusSR-T
US Status
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Jimmy RandolphRoadside, Lee County, 2018. LeePhoto_natural
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