Rough-Leafed Loosestrife - Lysimachia asperulaefolia
By Chris Daves, SC Master Naturalist
Rough-leafed loosestrife is an herbaceous perennial belonging to the Primrose family. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first listed it as an endangered species in 1987.
The distribution of this species is restricted to the sandhills/coastal plain region of only two Southeastern states: South Carolina and North Carolina. Nine populations are known to exist. Most of the populations of rough-leafed loosestrife are located in North Carolina. In South Carolina, only one population is known to exist in Richland County. Most of the populations are found on publicly-owned lands such as military bases and federal forestlands.
Its habitat includes the area between longleaf pine or oak savannas and wetter plant communities. It prefers moist or saturated sands and shallow organic soils.
Other habitats include savannas, seep bogs in the sandhills and pocosins. The species fares well where periodic fires are prevalent. Abundant sunlight and low vegetation are important to its survival.
The stems originate from a rhizome and grow up to two feet in height. Leaf formations are in whorls of three to four leaves. Its large, showy, yellow flowers are found on the terminal end of the stems. The plant flowers from May to June and fruits from August to October.
The largest threats to the plant are fire suppression and other habitat-destructive activities such as road construction, residential development, hydrological alterations, agricultural conversion of wetland areas and silviculture.
Efforts to preserve the species include better preservation and management techniques on publicly-owned land. Restrictions on human activity by placing buffering zones around existing populations are being implemented. More controlled burns are being conducted to eliminate competition that can shade out rough-leafed loosestrife. Other efforts are being made to create seed banks so that populations can be reestablished in suitable habitat. Reintroduction of the species to its historic habitat is another recovery method currently being used.
The only place to view rough-leafed loosestrife in South Carolina is on the Fort Jackson military base east of Columbia. A large population was discovered here in 1991 and is said to be the first population discovered in South Carolina since the 1800s.
Radford, A. E., H. Ahles, and C. R. Bell. 1978. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. UNC Press, Chapel Hill. 1,183 pp.
US Fish & Wildlife Service. 1995. Rough-leafed Loosestrife (Lysimachia asperulaefolia) Recovery Plan.