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Lythrum salicaria

LITH-rum sal-ih-KARE-ee-ah
Lythrum salicaria, known commonly as Purple Loosestrife, is an interesting species native not only to Australia but widespread in Europe, Asia and North America. It is a herbaceous perennial related to Lagerstroemia (crepe myrtle) and known from ancient times. Investigation of the meaning of the name leads back into the literature of many countries and is an example of the fascinating history behind names.


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The old English common name indicates a use as an astringent, but Lythrum has strange connections. The Greek word lythron meant blood in a sinister sense, i.e. impure, as from flowing battle wounds and other causes. As none of this group of plants has blood-red flowers, it is possible the name indicated that the plant was used for stopping blood. A reference found in a Chinese book suggests this.


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Wishing you a fine Friday…


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