Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fringed Willowherb - Epilobium ciliatum   Rafinesque
Members of Onagraceae:
Members of Epilobium with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 6 » Order Myrtales » Family Onagraceae
DistributionPresent over most of the Mountains, but no records yet for the extreme southwestern counties, nor for the counties along the VA border. Not known from downstate.

This is a very widespread species, mostly of Northern and Western regions. It occurs in the East only south to western NC and eastern TN.
AbundanceRare, known only from 12 counties in the Mountains; generally found at the higher elevations, usually over 4000 feet. This is a Significantly Rare species (actually it is the subspecies that is listed), with a State Rank of S2.
HabitatAs with all Epilobium species, it occurs in wetlands, with this species favoring bogs, seeps, and other small damp patches of ground, including "moist edges of logging roads" (Weakley 2018).
PhenologyBlooms from June to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a slender herb, erect but unbranched or with few branches, growing to about 1.5 feet tall. The alternate stem leaves are lanceolate, about 2 inches long; the margins are nearly entire (or with poorly marked teeth), and acute at the tip. The flowers are similar to those of E. coloratum, being from upper leaf axils on long stalks, pink to white, and barely 1/5-inch long. Weakley (2018) indicates that this species can be difficult to separate from E. coloratum in the Southeast. This latter species normally is a bushier species with longer leaves to 3-4 inches long; the leaves have more obvious teeth and a longer tip that is usually acuminate. This reference also gives a few additional characters to separate these two species. E. leptophyllum has linear leaves, widest near the middle, and these leaves are revolute and with no teeth along the margins. You likely will have difficulty finding this rare species, and if you do, make very sure about the identification, as this is quite a rare species.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species is subdivided into several subspecies. The one in our area is the nominate one -- ssp. ciliatum. Some older references named this species as E. adenocaulon, or E. glandulosum var. adenocaulon.

Other Common Name(s)American Willowherb
State RankS2
Global RankG5
State Status[SR-P]
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFAC link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieBlue Ridge Parkway, Avery County, August 2014. AveryPhoto_natural
Select a source
Select an occurrence type