Wednesday Weed – Great Willowherb

Every Wednesday, I hope to find a new ‘weed’ to investigate. My only criterion will be that I will not have deliberately planted the subject of our inquiry. Who knows what we will find…..

Great Willowherb (Epibilium hirsutum)

Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum)

This plant popped up in my garden a couple of years ago, and has made itself very at home around the pond. On a sunny day, my garden has taken on the air of the neglected meadows around the Lea Valley. This may not be the look I originally intended, but Great Willowherb seems so at home here that I am reluctant to replace it with something less local.

The tallest of these plants is six feet high!

Great Willowherb with Purple Loosestrife and Hemp Agrimony

On a windy day, it sways back and forth with leafy grace, providing a moving target for the many bees and hoverflies that seem to love its pink flowers with their white stamen.

Great Willow Herb blog Bee 3The plant has the common name of ‘Codlins and Cream’, because it is said that the flowers smell of stewed fruit, but this is not something that I’ve noticed, even when I gently crush the petals. However, I am hoping that one day I will find one of these on the plant:

Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar

The leaves of the Great Willowherb are a favourite with the caterpillars of the Elephant Hawkmoth, and I spend a lot of time looking at the lower leaves and stems of my little stand of the plant. No luck yet, but be sure I will let you know if I ever do find any! In the meantime, I shall enjoy watching the bees visiting a plant whose flowers are at my eye-level.

Great Willow Herb Blog 5



4 thoughts on “Wednesday Weed – Great Willowherb

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Weed – Broad-leaved Willowherb | Bug Woman – Adventures in London

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