PRIMROSE FAMILY - Primulaceae: Four-leaved or Whorled Loosestrife; Crosswort
Flowers--Yellow, streaked with, dark red, 1/2 in. across or less; each on a thread-like, spreading footstem from a leaf axil. Calyx, 5 to 7 parted; corolla of 5 to 7 spreading lobes, and as many stamens inserted on the throat; 1 pistil. Stem: Slender, erect, 1 to 3 ft. tall, leafy. Leaves: In whorls of 4 (rarely in 3's to 7's), lance-shaped or oblong, entire, black dotted.
Preferred Habitat--Open woodland, thickets, roadsides; moist, sandy soil.
Distribution--Georgia and lllinois, north to New Brunswick.
Medieval herbalists usually recorded anything that "Plinie saieth" with profoundest respect; not always so, quaint old Parkinson. Speaking of the common (vulgaris) Wild Loosestrife of Europe, a rather stout, downy species with terminal clusters of good-sized, yellow flowers, that was once cultivated in our Eastern states, and has sparingly escaped from gardens, he thus refers to the reputation given it by the Roman naturalist: "It is believed to take away strife, or debate between ye beasts, not onely those that are yoked together, but even those that are wild also, by making them tame and quiet ... if it be either put about their yokes or their necks," significantly adding, "which how true, I leave to them shall try and find it soe." Our slender, symmetrical, common loosestrife, with its whorls of leaves and little star-shaped blossoms on thread-like pedicels at regular intervals up the stem, is not even distantly related to the wonderful Purple Loosestrife.
Another common, lower-growing species, the Bulb-bearing Loosestrife (L. terrestris), blooms from July to September and shows a decided preference for swamps and ditches throughout a range which extends from Manitoba and Arkansas to the Atlantic Ocean.