Lovely Loosestrife

Winged loosestrife (Lythrum alatum) is flowering now in sunny spots at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA).  Mary Ester & George Bollis, who shared the photo above, report that this plant is prolific at Captain Forster Hammock Preserve.

Not to be confused with purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), which has invaded almost every other state except Florida, winged loosestrife is a shrubby wildflower that grows throughout Florida in moist, sunny places.  Its species name, alatum, means winged and refers to its 4-sided stems with slight wings.

Its pale purple 6-petaled flowers are star-shaped and have a darker purple midvein.

The flowers are visited by a variety of insects including butterflies, skippers, and a bunch of bees, including the European honeybee (Apis melllifera) shown below, long-tongued bees, green metallic bees, bumblebees, cuckoo bees, long-horned bees, and leaf-cutting bees.

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