South Dakota Native Plant Research
Onagraceae: Epilobium ciliatum

Onagraceae: Epilobium ciliatum


Download Mature plants (1.0 MB)

Download Leaves (916 KB)

Download Stems and hairs (698 KB)

Download Flowers (1.1 MB)

Family Name


Common Name

Fringed willowherb


Epilobium ciliatum is a perennial herb with erect, simple to branched stems, 5-120 cm in height, green, hairless on the lower portions of the stem and the upper stem with a covering of short hairs mixed with glandular hairs, often in lines running down from the leaves. The leaves are mostly opposite toward the base and alternate on the upper stem, the lower leaves are smooth, obovate with distinct petioles and broader than the upper lanceolate leaves that are nearly sessile and sparsely covered in short hairs mixed with glandular hairs, especially along the midvein. The blades are 3-12 cm long and 5-45 mm wide, blunt to pointed at the tip, and the margins have small widely spaced teeth. The flowers are single at the ends of stems and in the upper leaf axils, atop a short peduncle, <12 mm long, followed by a slender ovary, about 25 mm long, that is slightly wider than the peduncle. The 4 small, greenish red sepals that cup the flower are 1.5-5 mm long. The sepals, peduncle and ovary are all variously covered in short hairs mixed with gland-tipped hairs, often in lines. The 4 petals are white to pink to rose-purple, notched and < 5 mm long. There are 8 unequal stamens surrounding a white, club-shaped style. The fruit is a long, slender capsule, 4-10 cm long, drying to brown then splitting lengthwise from the top down in 2 to 4 segments. The seeds are brown, 1-1.5 mm long with a tuft of long, white hairs. Fringed willowherb blooms from July into September in moist, often disturbed sites scattered throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Fringed willowherb is a mildly attractive plant that grows rapidly in moist garden settings. It produces copious amounts of seeds and can be quite aggressive. Once established, it can be hard to remove.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Seeds are released in late summer and fall. They are very conspicuous with their tufts of hairs.

Germination: Plant in fall or in spring after a 60-day cold moist treatment. Seeds need light to germinate so just press them into the soil.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Loamy, organically rich soils.

Water: Moist.

Onagraceae: Epilobium ciliatum