Primrose family (Primulaceae)
Description: This herbaceous perennial wildflower is 1-4' tall, unbranched or sparingly branched, and more or less erect. The central stem is light green, angular or terete, and glabrous. Pairs of opposite leaves occur at intervals along the length of each stem. The leaf blades are up to 6" long and 2½" across; they are medium green, lanceolate to ovate, hairless, and smooth along their margins. The petioles of the leaves are up to 1½" long and conspicuously ciliate. Along the axils of the middle to upper leaves, individual flowers occur on pedicels up to 3" long; they usually nod downward. These pedicels are slender, light green, and hairless. Each flower is ½–1" across; it has a green hairless calyx with 5 lanceolate teeth and a corolla with 5 widely spreading petal-like lobes. The petal-like lobes are obovate in shape, tapering to slender pointed tips; they are often reddish near the center of the flower, where the reproductive organs occur. Each flower has 5 stamens and a slender style. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 1½ months. Usually, only a few flowers are in bloom at the same time. Each flower is replaced by a globoid seed capsule that is green and shiny; it is surrounded by the spreading teeth of the persistent calyx. Each capsule contains several seeds. The root system consists of a taproot and rhizomes. This wildflower reproduces by its seeds or vegetatively through its rhizomes.
Cultivation: The preference is full sun to light shade, wet to moist conditions, and a fertile loamy soil with organic matter.
Range & Habitat: The native Fringed Loosestrife occurs occasionally in most areas of Illinois (see Distribution Map). As compared to the past, populations of this species appear to be declining. Habitats include moist to wet areas of deciduous woodlands, swamps, soggy thickets, wet prairies, marshes, seeps, and borders of streams. This wildflower can be found in sun or shade.
Faunal Associations: The floral oil and pollen of the flowers attract the Melittid bee, Macropis steironematis. This bee is a specialist visitor (oligolege) of Lysimachia spp. It collects the floral oil and pollen for its larvae. In addition, the Halictid bee Lasioglossum versatus has been observed collecting pollen from the flowers of Fringed Loosestrife. Insects that feed destructively on various parts of Fringed Loosestrife and other Lysimachia spp. include the leafhopper Rossmoneura carbonata, larvae of the sawfly Monostegia abdominalis, larvae of Dasineura lysimachiae (Loosestrife Bud Gall Midge), larvae of the moth Nola cilicoides (Blurry-Patched Nola), and leaf-mining larvae of the moth Phyllonorycter lysimachiaeella. Many of these insects are oligophagous. Little appears to be known about this wildflower's relationships with birds and mammals.
Photographic Location: A damp wooded area along a railroad in Urbana, Illinois.
Comments: This is one of the more common Lysimachia spp. (Loosestrife species). As a group, they are not closely related to Lythrum spp. (Purple Loosestrife species). Fringed Loosestrife can be distinguished from other Lysimachia spp. by the conspicuous hairs on its petioles. It tends to be more robust and have wider leaves than other species in this genus. Most Lysimachia spp. in Illinois have similar yellow flowers that produce floral oil, although these flowers sometimes differ in size. Another species, Lysimachia thyrsiflora (Tufted Loosestrife), has flowers with very narrow petaloid lobes that are bunched together into dense clusters. This provides it with a distinctive appearance.