Herb: Purple Loosestrife
Latin name: Lythrum salicaria
Family: Lythraceae (Loosestrife Family)
Medicinal use of Purple Loosestrife:Purple loosestrife is an astringent herb that is mainly employed as a treatment for diarrhoea and dysentery. It can be safely taken by people of all ages and has been used to help arrest diarrhoea in breast-feeding babies. It can also be used to treat heavy periods and inter-menstrual bleeding. Modern research has shown the whole plant to be antibiotic and to be particularly effective against the micro-organism that causes typhus. The flowering plant is antibiotic, highly astringent, hypoglycaemic, styptic and vulnerary. It is valued as an intestinal disinfectant, especially in cases of enteritis, an infusion is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, internal bleeding, excessive menstruation etc. The flowering plant is harvested in the summer and can be used fresh or dried. Externally, the plant is used as a cleansing and healing wash for wounds, sores, impetigo, eczema, excess vaginal discharge, vaginal itching etc. The powdered plant is used as a haemostatic in cases of severe nosebleeds. The stems are regarded as gum stimulators and are given to children to chew in order to strengthen weak or bleeding gums.
Description of the plant:
(3 1/4 foot)
Habitat of the herb:Reed swamps at the margins of lakes and slow-flowing rivers, fens and marshes, avoiding acid soils.
Edible parts of Purple Loosestrife:Leaves - cooked. Rich in calcium. Root - cooked. An edible dye is obtained from the flowers.
Other uses of the herb:A decoction of the plant is impregnated into wood, rope etc to prevent it rotting in water. The leaves contain about 12% tannin, the stems 10.5%, the flowers 13.7% and the roots 8.5%. It is probably these tannins that preserve the wood etc. The powdered plant is used cosmetically in face-packs to counteract reddened skin.
Propagation of Purple Loosestrife:Seed - sow in the autumn or the spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it could be worthwhile trying a sowing in situ in the autumn or the spring. Division in March or October. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Basal cuttings in the spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
Cultivation of the herb:Reed swamps at the margins of lakes and slow-flowing rivers, fens and marshes, avoiding acid soils.
Known hazards of Lythrum salicaria:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.