Perennating by persistent basal rosettes, without turions or long rhizomes; stems erect, mostly solitary, freely branched when well developed, to 1 or even 1.5 m, puberulent at least above, usually in decurrent lines, sometimes even sericeous, and often also glandular in the infl; lvs opposite, or the upper offset or alternate, lanceolate or lance-ovate, mostly 3-12 נ0.5-3.5 cm, serrulate, the teeth somewhat remote (usually 2-5 per cm of margin) or small and obscure; fls numerous; sep 2-6 mm, not projecting in bud; pet 2-6 mm, white (pink), notched; fr 4-10 cm, on a ±evident pedicel 2-15+ mm; seeds numerous, ca 1 mm, broadly short-beaked, longitudinally finely ribbed (evidently so at 20ש; coma nearly white; 2n=36. Wet places, often in unstable habitats, variable and often somewhat weedy; Nf. and Lab. to Alas., s. to Va., w. N.C., Ind., Io., Calif., Tex., Mex., and C. Amer.; Chile and Arg. June-Aug. Ours is the widespread var. ciliatum. (E. adenocaulon; E. americanum; E. perplexans)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Perennial herb (sometimes annual), up to 1 m tall, from fibrous roots; stems erect, smaller plants unbranched and larger plants freely branching; herbage glabrous or pubescent, sometimes glandular in inflorescence. Leaves: Opposite on the lower stems and often alternate above; sessile or on petioles up to 1 cm long; blades ovate to lanceolate to elliptic-lanceolate, 3-7 cm long, with 4-10 conspicuous lateral veins on either side of the midvein; leaf margins lined with small teeth. Flowers: Small and pink, erect in leafy racemes at branch tips; sepals per flower, 2 mm long; petals 4 per flower, white to pink or reddish, 2-10 mm long, each with a deep notch at the tip, making each petal look like a pair of petals at first glance. Fruits: Capsules long and slender, 4-6 cm long, tinged with red; splitting open along 4 suture lines to release many seeds, each 1 mm long with a dandelion-like tuft of white hairs attached to the top. Ecology: Found on moist soils, from 2,000-10,000 ft (610-3048 m); flowers May-September. Distribution: Throughout N. Amer., most states in the U.S. except the southeast; south to S. Amer.; also in Asia, Australia and Europe. Notes: Distinguished by the small pink flowers at the end of a long inferior ovary, that, when mature, splits open along sutures revealing small seeds with tufts of hair attached. The plant is often erect, has a reddish color and and has narrow oval-shaped leaves with conspicuous veins. Only occurs in wetlands. Ethnobotany: Used against diarrhea, and to treat leg pains and muscular cramps. Etymology: Epilobium comes from Greek epi, upon and loboium, pod or capsule, referring to the inferior ovary; ciliatum alludes to the hairs that give a fringe to parts of the plant. Synonyms: Many, see Tropicos Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2017