Primrose willow

Ludwigia peruviana
Family: Onagraceae

Natural History
Flower of primrose willow
Photo credit: Larry Korhnak, University of Florida

Primrose willow, an attractive member of the evening primrose family (Onagraceae), is a coarse, woody shrub, with herbaceous upper stems. The plants may bear conspicuous, bright yellow flowers year-round and are often seen in shallow, wet ditches, or along drainage canals, primarily in central and south Florida, but extending into north Florida as well. In the northern parts of the plant's range, flowers generally bloom in the fall and stems may become winter-killed, during cold snaps.

Butterflies are attracted to the sweet nectar of the flowers, so this plant is popular for backyard butterfly gardens.

Primrose willow is scattered throughout the southeastern United States, from West Virginia south throughout Florida and west to Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.


Identifying Characteristics

Habitat: Primrose willow grows in shallow-water areas, such as marshy shores, wet clearings, ditches, and drainage canals.
Size/Form: Primrose willow is a multi-stemmed, evergreen shrub that grows from 3'-12' tall. The lower portion of the plant is woody, while the upper branches are herbaceous and hairy.
Stem: The lower, woody stems are 1" to 1½" in diameter, with smooth, brown bark that sloughs off in lengthy strips. Upper stems are covered with fuzzy tan hairs.
Leaves: The leaves are simple, alternately arranged and lanceolate to broadly elliptical, from 2" to 6" long and 1" to 1¼ " wide, with fuzzy tan hairs above and below. The underside of leaves shows obvious venation. Leaves have wedge-shaped bases with no petiole and acute leaf tips. The margins are entire. Stems are shaggy and hairy, with petioles lacking.
Flowers: The flowers are large, showy, bright yellow blossoms, with four, nearly rounded petals. They bloom year-round in some parts of the plant's range.
Fruit: The fruit is an unusual, four-angled capsule, about ½" to 1" long.



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