Family, Loosestrife. Color, magenta. Calyx, a tube with 5 to 7 teeth, and small projections between. Corolla, of about 6 long, often twisted petals. Stamens, 12, 6 longer, 6 shorter. Flowers, large, in a crowded spike. Lea lance-shaped, heart-shaped at base, often in whorls of threes. Plant, tall, 2 to 3 feet high, softly downy.
A beautiful importation from England, found plentifully in swamps in Orange County, New York, and elsewhere. It is remarkable as an example of trimorphism, the two sets of stamens and pistils being of different lengths in the same flower. Every pistil, in order to effect pollination, must receive the pollen from a stamen of the same length in another flower. Professor Darwin experimented with these flowers, and wrote about them to Doctor Gray: 'I am almost stark, staring mad over lythrum. If I can prove what
I really believe, it is a grand case of trimorphism, with three different pollens and three stigmas. I have fertilized above ninety flowers, trying all the eighteen distinct crosses which are possible within the limits of this one species. For the love of Heaven, have a look at some of your species, and, if you can get me some seed, do." (See illustration, p. 270.)
Spiked loosestrife (Lythrum Salicaria)