Rosebay willowherb Chamerion angustifolium
A striking wild plant with tall spires of large pink flowers and leaves that grow like a staircase around the stem.
Rosebay willowherb is a fine example of a 'pioneer species' - the first plants to colonise a barren area with very little competition (such as the sites of forest fires). For this reason it was a familiar sight following the London Blitz (see below).
Common throughout England, Wales and south-east Scotland. Rarer in Ireland.
As a pioneer plant, rosebay willowherb thrives on waste ground. Keep an eye out for it when travelling by car or train.
Best time to see
Late summer, when it flowers: July-September.
Did you know?
London has indelible memories of the drifts of this flower in the bomb sites of the second world war. As a pioneer plant it was one of the first to colonise the scarred earth, and its vivid spires were synonymous with London's revival. As such, it was a popular choice as the County Flower of our capital. Today it mingles with buddleias and Michaelmas daisies on railway banks, old walls and waste ground.