Great Willow-herb (Epilobium hirsutum)

Great Willow-herb (Epilobium hirsutum), growing as a local infestation on the riparian edge of a pool on Skeleton Creek, just above where the Werribee railway line crosses the creek near Hopper’s Crossing.

We have previously covered a spontaneous appearance of the plant in a very dry street tree cut on the edge of Fitzroy; and postscripy now that there was also a fantastic little botanical report in a 1908 French journal recounting a similar discovery of a plant growing against type on a dry roadside in Normandy.

However, here it is under more normal and well-adapted circumstances, a mass infestation of presumably a large quantity of roots and stolons, and producing thousands of hairy seeds for another chance at colonisation of this or other creeks of the metropolitan south-west. In the later frames, the breadth of the infestation (which has itself been heavily infested by a leafhopper) becomes plain: all of the spent plants, golden-brown in the foreground, had been willow-herb.

A European wetland plant that has been spread to China, South Africa, North America, NZ and Victoria, Great Willow-herb was introduced to Melbourne and elsewhere in southern Victoria around c. 1980. Presumably imported as an ornamental, semi-aquatic planting or as a contaminant of other plants or materials, it has been recorded on creeks and railway ditches in the metropolitan south-west since 2006.

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Search for information about Epilobium hirsutum in the Flora of Victoria

View information and occurrences of Epilobium hirsutum on the Atlas of Living Australia

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