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A striking wild plant with tall spires of large pink flowers and leaves that grow like a staircase around the stem. Its leaves resemble those of the willow species, hence the name.
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. It likes to grow in dry, relatively open areas. It can typically be found in forest clearings, beside tracks and trails, on recently disturbed ground and on well-drained banks of rivers. Since it can colonise disturbed sites, even following an oil spill, it is often used to re-establish vegetation.
Late summer, when it flowers: July-September.
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