fringed willowherb

(Epilobium ciliatum ssp. ciliatum)

Conservation Status
fringed willowherb (ssp. ciliatum)
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland


FACW - Facultative wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Fringed willowherb (ssp. ciliatum) is a 2 to 48 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on usually a single stem from a compact, persistent rosette of basal leaves. It does not produce long, horizontal, underground stems (rhizomes) or underground winter buds (turions).

The stem is erect and usually has many branches, near the base as well as near the top. It is often tinged with red. It has raised lines of fine, short hairs extending downward from the margins of the leaf stalks, at least near the top.

Stem leaves are alternate but are so close together that they appear opposite near the bottom of the stem and often opposite or nearly opposite near the top. Lower leaves are on 1 32 to long leaf stalks, upper leaves are stalkless. The leaf blades are narrowly lance-shaped to narrowly egg-shaped, 1¼ to 4¾ long, and ¼ to 1 wide. They are rounded at the base and taper to a point at the tip with straight or slightly concave sides along the tip. The veins are conspicuous and are deeply sunken on the upper surface. The upper and lower surfaces are almost hairless except for straight, stiff, sharp, appressed hairs along the veins. The margins are toothed with 2 to 5 shallow, sharp, forward pointing teeth per of margin.

The inflorescence is an erect, open, branched cluster of many flowers at the end of the stem and branches.

The flowers are to ½ wide. There are 4 white to light purple or pink petals. The petals are deeply notched at the tip, sometimes appearing as 4 pairs of petals. The stigma is not branched.

The fruit is a long, hairy capsule containing numerous seeds. The capsule is 1½ to 4 long and is held erect on a 1 16 to long stalk.




2 to 48


Flower Color


White to light purple or pink


Similar Species


Downy willowherb (Epilobium strictum) stem is unbranched or has just a few branches. Middle and upper stem leaves are evidently alternate. The leaves are narrower, no more than 5 16 wide. The upper leaf surface is densely covered with straight, spreading or ascending hairs. The leaf margins are untoothed and are rolled backward (toward the underside).

Narrow-leaved willowherb (Epilobium leptophyllum) has narrower leaves, no more than ¼ wide. The leaf margins are untoothed and are rolled backward (toward the underside). The upper leaf surface is covered with straight, stiff, sharp, appressed hairs across the entire surface.

Northern willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum ssp. glandulosum) rises from a large, fleshy, underground turion. It is usually unbranched or only sparsely branched near the top. The leaves are wider and egg-shaped or narrowly egg-shaped. The inflorescence is narrow, dense, leafy, and mostly unbranched. The flowers are larger, up to long, and darker, pink to rose-purple, rarely white.

Purple-leaf willowherb (Epilobium coloratum) stems and leaves are often tinted purple. The leaves are often blotched with purple. The leaf margins are more densely toothed, with 4 to 8 teeth per of margin. The fruit is smaller, no more than 2 long.


Wet. Streambanks, roadsides, disturbed places.




June to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



3, 4, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  
  Order Myrtales (myrtles, evening primroses, and allies)  


Onagraceae (evening primrose)  
  Subfamily Onagroideae  
  Tribe Epilobieae  


Epilobium (willowherbs)  
  Section Epilobium  
  Species Epilobium ciliatum (fringed willowherb)  

Subordinate Taxa






Epilobium adenocaulon

Epilobium adenocaulon var. ecomosum

Epilobium adenocaulon var. holosericeum

Epilobium adenocaulon var. parishii

Epilobium adenocaulon var. perplexans

Epilobium americanum

Epilobium brevistylum

Epilobium brevistylum var. ursinum

Epilobium californicum

Epilobium californicum var. holosericeum

Epilobium ciliatum var. ecomosum

Epilobium delicatum

Epilobium ecomosum

Epilobium glandulosum var. adenocaulon

Epilobium glandulosum var. ecomosum

Epilobium glandulosum var. macounii

Epilobium leptocarpum var. macounii

Epilobium ursinum Parish

Epilobium watsonii var. parishii


Common Names


American willowherb

ciliated willow-herb

coast willowweed

fringed willowherb

hairy willow-herb

northern willowherb













A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



A usually fleshy bud that overwinters and from which new growth emerges in the spring; winter bud.

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    fringed willowherb (ssp. ciliatum)   fringed willowherb (ssp. ciliatum)  






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