Herbs & Plants

Epilobium hirsutum

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Botanical Name:Epilobium hirsutum
Family: Onagraceae
Genus: Epilobium
Species: E. hirsutum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Myrtales

Common Names: Great willowherb, Great hairy willowherb or hairy willowherb. Local names include Codlins-and-cream, Apple-pie and Cherry-pie.

Habitat : Epilobium hirsutum is native to Eurasia, where it is found in moist waste ground of the Mediterranean region, Europe, Asia, and Africa.It is absent from much of Scandinavia and north-west Scotland. It has been introduced to North America and Australia.  Common habitats include marshland, ditches and the banks of rivers and streams. It is widespread, often forming large, long-lived colonies in England, Wales, and Ireland. In Scotland it is confined to the east coast. Intolerant of shade, hairy willow-herb is found in damp and waste places to elevations of 2500 meters (8100 feet).It grows on the stream banks, marshes, drier parts of fens etc, to 360 metres.

It is a tall, perennial plant, reaching up to 2 metres in height. The robust stems are branched and have numerous hairs. The hairy leaves are 2-12 cm long and 0.5-3.5 cm wide. They are long and thin and are widest below the middle. They have sharply-toothed edges and no stalk. The large flowers have four notched petals. These are purple-pink and are usually 10-16 mm long. The stigma is white and has four lobes. The sepals are green.

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It flowers from June to September, with a peak in July and August. The flowers are normally pollinated by bees and hoverflies. A number of insects feed on the leaves including the elephant hawkmoth, Deilephila elpenor.

Edible Uses: Tea..…..The leaves are used to make a tea. This is often drunk in Russia, where it is called ‘kaporie tea’. The leaves are also sometimes sucked for their salty taste. Edible leaves. No more details are given in the report but caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves of Epilobium hirsutum have been used as astringents, but there are some reports of violent poisoning with epileptic-like convulsions as a result of its use. This remedy has been discarded by professional herbalists as the use of the leaves has been associated with poisonings and convulsions.

Known Hazards : One report says that the plant might be poisonous. Another says that it causes epileptiform convulsions

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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