Narrow-leaved willowherb

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Narrow-leaved willowherb
Narrow-leaved willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium)

Narrow-leaved willowherb ( Epilobium angustifolium )

Eurosiden II
Order : Myrtle-like (Myrtales)
Family : Evening primrose family (Onagraceae)
Subfamily : Onagroideae
Genre : Willowherb ( epilobium )
Type : Narrow-leaved willowherb
Scientific name
Epilobium angustifolium
( L. ) Holub

The narrow-leaved willowherb ( Epilobium angustifolium ) is a species of willowherb ( Epilobium ) within the family of the evening primrose family (Onagraceae).

The German botanist Christian Konrad Sprengel discovered cross- pollination in this species in 1790 .


Illustration in Otto Wilhelm Thomé : Flora of Germany, Austria and Switzerland , Gera 1885

Vegetative characteristics

The narrow-leaved willowherb grows as a deciduous, perennial herbaceous plant and reaches heights of usually 50 to 120, rarely up to 200 centimeters. It forms a long-creeping rhizome as a persistence organ and for vegetative, clonal spread in addition to the generative via the flight seeds. The upright, round to blunt-edged and mostly unbranched stems are bare or only slightly hairy and dark purple in color to the tip.

The alternate arranged leaves are stalked short. The simple leaf blade is narrowly lanceolate with a length of about 5 to 20 centimeters and a width of 1 to 2.5 centimeters. The blue-green colored underside of the leaf shows clearly protruding leaf veins . The slightly calloused, serrated leaf margin is curved downwards.

Generative characteristics

Flower detail. The four darker sepals are clearly recognizable
Fruit cluster

The flowering period extends from June to August. The numerous flowers are arranged in a long, terminal, racemose inflorescence . In contrast to the mostly radial symmetry flowers of many fireweed species, the flowers of the narrow-leaved willow are a little zygomorph . The pink to purple flowers are about 2 to 3 centimeters wide. The four sepals are linear. The four lighter colored petals are broadly rounded to slightly edged and nailed briefly. The stylus, which is usually somewhat hairy at the base, ends in a four-part scar.

The capsule fruit is slender, long, fissured and red. When opening, the flaps roll back a little. The tiny seeds are long-lived.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 36.


A vegetative reproduction occurs through root shoots and through branching of the rhizome . Due to its rhizomes, the narrow-leaved willowherb is an important soil strengthener.

The flowering sequence is from bottom to top, which ensures cross- pollination . There are therefore buds , flowers and fruits on a plant at the same time - similar to what is known from the buckthorn tree . Most pollinators are hymenoptera . The numerous flowers are a good pasture for bees .

The seeds have a long head of hair and, as typical parachute fliers, can fly distances of at least 10 kilometers with a sink rate of 20 centimeters per second. Hundreds of thousands of seeds are produced per plant, which means that new areas such as clear cuts can be colonized very quickly.


The narrow-leaved willowherb is circumpolar in the northern hemisphere . The occurrences reach far to the north, in Europe as far as Scandinavia . In the Alps , the narrow-leaved willowherb can be found from the valley up to altitudes of 2000 meters (in the western Alps up to 2500 meters). In the Allgäu Alps, it rises in the Tyrolean part between Lechleiten and the Hundskopfalpe near Steeg to an altitude of 1910 meters.

This raw soil pioneer prefers clearcutting, banks, embankments, rock and block rubble, rubble and ruderal sites as a location . The lime - avoiding light plant thrives on fresh, nutrient-rich clay soils . In plant sociology, it is a class character of Epilobietea angustifolii in Central Europe and occurs optimally in Senecioni-Epilobietum angustifolii, and more rarely in societies of the Betulo-Adenostyletea class.

Coat of arms of the Yukon Territory with fireweed

It can spread very quickly in the clearing that has arisen, especially after forest cuts or forest fires . The English name "Fireweed", which is common in Alaska and Canada, is derived from this property . So there is Epilobium angustifolium also the emblem of the Canadian Yukon -Territoriums.

Due to its properties as a pioneer plant , the narrow-leaved willowherb reproduced heavily on the urban rubble and debris created by air raids and ground fighting during World War II. The plants of the ruderal flora that were previously unfamiliar or unknown in urban areas - but especially the narrow-leaved willowherb - were given the popular name "rubble flowers".


The first publication of this species was in 1753 by Carl von Linné in Species Plantarum under the name Epilobium angustifolium L. 1771 it was by Giovanni Antonio Scopoli under the name Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop. into the genus Chamaenerion Ség. posed. In 1972 the Czech botanist Josef Holub rejected the genus Chamaenerion as invalid and placed the narrow-leaved willowherb under the name Chamerion angustifolium (L.) Holub in the genus Chamerion (Raf.) Raf. ex Holub . The Russian botanist Alexander Sennikov , however, came to the conclusion in 2011 that Chamaenerion Ség. the oldest properly published name is that was lectotyped with Epilobium angustifolium in 1872. Another heterotypical synonym is Epilobium spicatum Lam.

In the revision of the Onagraceae following modern phylogenetic analyzes , the genus Chamaenerion (as Chamerion ) was revived in 2007, after it had previously been largely discarded, and confirmed in 2011. Chamaenerion and Epilobium s. st. therefore represent sister taxa that form a monophyletic group. Therefore, both recognition as a separate genus and treatment as a genus is scientifically justified. Chamerion is usually recognized in English -speaking countries, but sometimes not in German-speaking countries.

At least two subspecies of Epilobium angustifolium are recognized:

  • Epilobium angustifolium subsp. angustifolium
  • Epilobium angustifolium subsp. circumvagum mosquin


The flowers are attractive to bumblebees and bees

The young underground and above-ground parts of the plant can be prepared as a salad or vegetables, similar to asparagus. Young, tender leaves may have a sour taste (rich in vitamin C ), but they can be mixed with mild herbs or enjoyed as a tea mixture (also known as "Coptic tea"). Russian tea or Ivan tea , in Russian also formerly Koporskij Tschaj (Копорский чай) after the village of Koporje , which used to produce significant quantities, is fermented willowherb tea . That is why the narrow -leaved willowherb is called Iwantee willow leaf in Russian (Иван-чай узколистный). The fermented tea tastes similar to the black tea, but is without theein (caffeine) and is said to have various healing effects. It was widespread in Russia before the spread of Asian black teas.

Bees that collect the pollen from Epilobium angustifolium are said to give particularly aromatic honey . The underground parts of the plant in particular are rich in tannins and mucilage . In the past (and in some cases still today) candle wicks were braided from the hairs of the narrow-leaved willowherb seeds. The North American Haida from British Columbia and Alaska processed the outer fibers of the stems to make cords, from which they in turn tied fishing nets. Other Indians used the long seed hairs to weave them together with goat wool to make blankets and cloaks. They were also used to fill pillows in ancient Russia.

Use in medicine and medical research

Epilobium angustifolium is popularly used as a tea drug for prostate diseases (especially benign prostatic hyperplasia) and gastrointestinal diseases. Tests have shown that an extract from Epilobium angustifolium has an antimicrobial effect . In the case of hormone-dependent prostate adenomas, extracts from various types of Epilobium , including Epilobium angustifolium , were able to trigger apoptosis of the cancer cells via an interaction with the signal cascades in the mitochondria. The polyphenolic ingredient with the name Oenothein B from Epilobium angustifolium shows immunomodulatory effects.

Common names

Other common German names are perennial fireweed , wood willow herb or wood willow herb . For the narrow-leaved willowherb, the other German-language trivial names exist or existed : St. Antoniekraut ( East Prussia ), Eberkraut, Feuerkraut, crab flowers ( Silesia near Lauban ), Kuril tea (based on the flowers), weed and wild willows ( East Friesland ).



  • Xaver Finkenzeller, Jürke Grau: Alpine flowers. Recognize and determine (=  Steinbach's natural guide ). Mosaik, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-576-11482-3 .
  • Manfred A. Fischer, Wolfgang Adler, Karl Oswald: Excursion flora for Austria, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol . 2nd, improved and enlarged edition. State of Upper Austria, Biology Center of the Upper Austrian State Museums, Linz 2005, ISBN 3-85474-140-5 .
  • Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany. A botanical-ecological excursion companion to the most important species . 6th, completely revised edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2005, ISBN 3-494-01397-7 .
  • Epilobium angustifolium L., narrow-leaved willowherb. In: (Section description)

Individual evidence

  1. a b Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas . With the collaboration of Angelika Schwabe and Theo Müller. 8th, heavily revised and expanded edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 , pp.  681-682 .
  2. Erhard Dörr, Wolfgang Lippert : Flora of the Allgäu and its surroundings. Volume 2, IHW, Eching 2004, ISBN 3-930167-61-1 , p. 245.
  3. Carl von Linné: Species Plantarum. Volume 1, Lars Salvius, Stockholm 1753, p. 347 ( digitized versionhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/ IA% 3D ~ MDZ% 3D% 0A ~ SZ% 3D ~ double-sided% 3D ~ LT% 3D ~ PUR% 3D ).
  4. ^ Giovanni Antonio Scopoli: Flora carniolica exhibens plantas Carnioliae indigenas et distributas in classes, genera, species, varietates, ordine linnaeano. Editio secunda aucta et reformata. Ioannis Paulus Krauss, Vienna, p. 271 as a PDF file .
  5. Josef Holub: Taxonomic and nomenclatural remarks on Chamaenerion auct. In: Folia Geobotanica et Phytotaxonomica. Volume 7, No. 1, 1972, pp. 81-90 (here: p. 86), DOI: 10.1007 / BF02856384 .
  6. Epilobium angustifolium at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
  7. Alexander N. Sennikov: Chamerion or Chamaenerion (Onagraceae)? The old story in new words. In: Taxon. Volume 60, No. 5, 2011, pp. 1485-1488 ( abstract ).
  8. a b Epilobium angustifolium in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
  9. ^ Warren L. Wagner, Peter C. Hoch, Peter H. Raven: Revised Classification of the Onagraceae (= Systematic Botany Monographs. Volume 83). American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Ann Arbor, Mich. 2007, ISBN 978-0-912861-83-8 (PDF file).  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: dead link /  
  10. a b website of the company W. + A. Riedel GbR on the history of fireweed tea, accessed on August 1, 2018
  11. Ingrid Schönfelder, Peter Schönfelder : The new manual of medicinal plants. Botany, medicinal drugs, active ingredients, application. Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-440-09387-5 , p. 180
  12. I. Kosalec, N. Kopjar, D. Kremer: Antimicrobial activity of Willow Herb (Epilobium angustifolium L.) leaves and flowers. In: Current drug targets. Volume 14, No. 9, 2013, pp. 986-991, DOI: 10.2174 / 13894501113149990177 , PMID 23796429 .
  13. M. Stolarczyk, M. Naruszewicz, AK Kiss: Extracts from Epilobium sp. herbs induce apoptosis in human hormone-dependent prostate cancer cells by activating the mitochondrial pathway. In: The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology. Volume 65, No. 7, 2013, pp. 1044-1054, DOI: 10.1111 / jphp.12063 , PMID 23738732 .
  14. IA Schepetkin, LN Kirpotina, L. Jakiw, AI Khlebnikov, CL BLASKOVICH, MA Jutila, MT Quinn: Immunomodulatory activity of oenotheine B isolated from Epilobium angustifolium. In: Journal of Immunology (Baltimore, Md.: 1950). Volume 183, No. 10, 2009, pp. 6754-6766, DOI: 10.4049 / jimmunol.0901827 , PMID 19846877 , PMC 2783546 (free full text).
  15. ^ Georg August Pritzel , Carl Jessen : The German folk names of plants. New contribution to the German linguistic treasure. Philipp Cohen, Hannover 1882, page 139. ( online ).

Web links

Commons : Narrow-leaved willowherb ( Epilobium angustifolium )  - album with pictures, videos and audio files