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Common loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), illustration

Common loosestrife ( Lythrum salicaria ), illustration

Nuclear eudicotyledons
Eurosiden II
Order : Myrtle-like (Myrtales)
Family : Loosestrife
Scientific name

The loosestrife family (Lythraceae), also blood loosestrife family , form a plant family in the order of the myrtle-like (Myrtales). The purple loosestrife, together with the swamp quendel and the water nut, are the only species of this family of plants found in Central Europe . The oldest fossil finds , which are assigned to the family Lythraceae, are seeds from the Cretaceous Mexico and from the Paleocene of southern England , and fossil fruits , leaves and pollen have also been found.

Description and ecology

Subfamily Duabangoideae: Illustration of Duabanga grandiflora
Subfamily Lythroideae: Cuphea hyssopifolia
Subfamily Lythroideae: Lagerstroemia indica
Subfamily Lythroideae: Lafoensia pacari
Subfamily Lythroideae: Lythrum Portula ( Lythrum portula )
Subfamily Lythroideae: Pemphis acidula
Subfamily Lythroideae: Pleurophora pusilla
Subfamily Lythroideae: Rotala malabarica
Subfamily Lythroideae: Woodfordia fruticosa
Subfamily Punicoideae: blossom of the pomegranate ( Punica granatum )
Subfamily Sonneratioideae: Sonneratia caseolaris
Subfamily Trapoideae: water nut ( Trapa natans )

Appearance and leaves

In the temperate areas it is an annual to perennial herbaceous plant ; that is most of the species. More rarely, this is the case only in the tropics , there are woody taxa that grow as shrubs and trees . The young branches are often square.

The leaves are mostly opposite, less often they are alternate and spiral or whorled. The simple leaf blades are pinnate and usually have a whole edge. Stipules are absent or just small.

Inflorescences and flowers

The flowers are solitary or in axillary or terminal zymous , racemose , paniculate inflorescences or in pseudo whorls.

The hermaphroditic flowers are radially symmetrical to zygomorphic and usually have a double flower envelope (perianth). Hypanthium is often present. The number of flower organs in the individual petal circles is very variable in this family - from 3 to 16. There may be a secondary chalice. The membranous to thick leathery sepals are mostly fused and often durable. The free petals are often wrinkled and may be nailed; they are seldom missing. There are (4 to) 8 to 16 (up to 100) free, fertile stamens . Usually two to four (rarely up to six) carpels are a syncarp, from constant to constant above (see subfamilies), two to six or multi-chambered ovary grown. In each ovary chamber there are many ovules in central angled placentation. Heterostyly is common here. The stylus ends in a heady, conical-shield-shaped or point-shaped scar. The pollination is effected by insects ( Entomophilie ).

Fruits and seeds

Leathery capsule fruits are usually formed, which usually open when ripe. Berry-like fruits are produced less often. The fruits are mostly partially or completely enveloped by the durable bloom cladding sheets. The fruits usually contain many seeds. The rarely winged seeds contain no endosperm and have a straight embryo with two flat or rolled up cotyledons .


The chromosomes are 1 to 4 µm in length. The basic chromosome number is x = mostly 8 (5 to 11). Polyploidy is often demonstrated.

Systematics and distribution

The Lythraceae family was listed in 1805 by Jaume Saint-Hilaire in Exposition des Familles Naturelles , 2, p. 175. Type genus is Lythrum L. Synonyms for Lythraceae J.St.-Hil. are: Ammanniaceae Horaninow , Blattiaceae Niedenzu , Duabangaceae Takhtajan , Lagerstroemiaceae J.Agardh , Lawsoniaceae J.Agardh , Punicaceae Horan. , Sonneratiaceae Engler and Trapaceae Dum.

They are widespread in tropical and subtropical areas of the world, some species are common in the temperate zones.

The family Lythraceae s. l. since Graham et al. 2005 divided into five subfamilies and about 31 genera with 620 to 650 species :

  • Subfamily Lythroideae Juss. ex Arn. = Lythraceae s. st. : The ovary is above. It contains about 28 genera:
    • Adenaria Kunth : It contains only one species:
    • Cognac plants ( Ammannia L. ): The 25 or so species are distributed in the tropics and subtropics, mainly in Asia and Africa, only 4 species occur in the New World , including:
    • Capuronia Lour .: It contains only one species:
    • Crenea Aubl. : The only two types are common in the New World.
    • Quiverflower ( Cuphea Adans. Ex P.Br. ): The approximately 240 species are widespread in the New World, but none are found in Canada. The flowers are zygomorphic .
    • Decodon J.F. Gmelin : It probably only contains one species:
      • Whorled water loosestrife ( Decodon verticillatus (L.) Elliott ): It is widespread in Canada and the USA.
    • Didiplis Raf. : It contains only one type:
      • American Bach castle ( Didiplis diandra (Nutt. Ex DC.) AWWood ): It is common in the USA.
    • Diplusodon Pohl : The 85 or so species are common in the New World.
    • Galpinia N.E.Br. : It contains only one type:
    • Ginoria Jacq. (including Haitia Urb. ): The approximately 15 species arenativeto the Greater Antilles and Mexico .:
    • Heimia Link & Otto : The flowers of these shrubs are six-fold. The three types are common in the Neotropic :
    • Hionanthera A. Fern. & Diniz : Up to four species occur in Africa.
    • Koehneria S.A. Graham , Tobe & Baas : It contains only one species:
    • Lafoensia Vand. : The five or so species are widespread in Central and South America.
    • Lagerstroemia ( Lagerstroemia L. ): The approximately 55 species are spread from tropical and subtropical Asia to Australia and north to Japan. There are 15 species in China, eight of them only there. They are bushes or trees.
    • Lawsonia : It contains only one species:
      • Henna ( Lawsonia inermis L. , Syn .: Lawsonia alba Lam. , Lawsonia spinosa L. ): The flowers of this shrub are fourfold. The homeland is Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Comoros and Seychelles.
    • Lourtella S.A. Graham et al. : It contains only one type:
    • Purple loosestrife ( Lythrum L. ): The (15 to) around 35 species are distributed worldwide in many climatic zones, only around 2 species occur in the New World (for example in Chile).
    • Nesaea Comm. ex Kunth : The (25 to 55) around 50 species are mainly distributed in the Old World, only around 3 species occur in the New World.
    • Pehria Sprague : It contains only one species:
      • Pehria compacta (Rusby) Sprague : It is widespread in Central and South America.
    • Pemphis J.R. Forster & G. Forster : It contains only one species:
    • Peplis L .: It contains only one species:
      • Peplis alternifolia M.Bieb. : It is mainly common in Europe, but also occurs in China, for example.
    • Physocalymma Pohl : It contains only one species:
    • Pleurophora Don. : The six or so species are common in the New World.
    • Rotala L .: The (24 to 50) about 44 species are widespread in the tropical to temperate areas of the Old World, only two species occur in the New World.
    • Tetrataxis Hook.f. : It contains only one type:
    • Woodfordia Salisb. : It contains only two types:
  • Subfamily Punicoideae (Horan.) SAGraham, Thorne & Reveal (Syn .: Punicaceae): The ovary is subordinate. With only one genus and only two species:
    • Pomegranates ( Punica L. ): Of the only two species, one is widespread in Eurasia and is cultivated in many countries, the other species is endemic to the island of Socotra .
  • Subfamily Sonneratioideae ( Engl. & Gilg) SAGraham, Thorne & Reveal (Syn .: Sonneratiaceae): The ovary is above to half below. It contains only one genus:
  • Subfamily Duabangoideae (Takht.) SAGraham, Thorne & Reveal (Syn .: Duabangaceae): The ovary is subordinate. With only one genre:
  • Subfamily Trapoideae Voigt (Syn .: Trapaceae): The ovary is subordinate. With only one genre:
    • Trapa L .: It contains only two species, many published species names are only synonyms of Trapa natans L .:
      • Trapa incisa sieve. & Zucc. (Syn .: Trapa maximowiczii Korshinsky ): It is distributed in Asia from India, Laos, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Korea, Russia's Far East, Japan, Malaysia to Indonesia.
      • Water hazel ( Trapa natans L. , there are many synonyms): It is widespread in Eurasia and Africa . In Australia and North America it is a neophyte . It is grown in many countries.


Among the loosestrife there are some types of plants that provide coloring. The best known species is the henna ( Lawsonia inermis ), from which henna is obtained. Other examples are Woodfordia fruticosa , whose leaves are red in color. Yellow pigments are produced from the bark and wood of some Lafoensia species.

The pomegranate provides fruit and is used as an ornamental plant. The fruits of the water nut are eaten as a vegetable in East Asia, Malaysia and India. The leaves of Lythrum portula are eaten raw or cooked. The seeds of Ammannia multiflora are ground and used to bake cakes. From the seeds of Cuphea viscosissima oil can be obtained as edible oil or for the cosmetic industry.

Valuable wood suppliers from the family are Brazilian rosewood ( Physocalymma scaberrimum ), guayacan ( Lafoensia speciosa ) and various tree species of the genus Lagerstroemia ( Lagerstroemia ).

Chinese lagerstroemia ( Lagerstroemia indica ), henna ( Lawsonia inermis ) and Woodfordia fruticosa are planted as ornamental trees in warm climates . Ornamental plants that may be mentioned are Cuphea species, for example the cigarette fuchsia ( Cuphea ignea ).

Few species are also used in the aquarium hobby . In the aquarium have been proven among other Bachburgel and Cognakpflanze and Rotala macrandra and Rotala indica , but these species are also considered challenging. Rotala rotundifolia ("Rundblättrige Rotala") is easier to keep .

Common loosestrife , Lagerstroemia indica and Heimia salicifolia are medicinal plants .


  • The family of Lythraceae in APWebsite. (Sections systematics and description)
  • Haining Qin, Shirley A. Graham, Michael G. Gilbert: Lythraceae. In: Wu Zheng-yi, Peter H. Raven, Deyuan Hong (Eds.): Flora of China . tape 13 : Clusiaceae through Araliaceae . Science Press / Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing / St. Louis 2007, ISBN 978-1-930723-59-7 , pp. 274-289 (English, online ). (Sections Description, Distribution and Systematics)
  • Jiarui Chen, Bingyang Ding, Michele Funston: Trapaceae. In: Wu Zheng-yi, Peter H. Raven, Deyuan Hong (Eds.): Flora of China . tape 13 : Clusiaceae through Araliaceae . Science Press / Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing / St. Louis 2007, ISBN 978-1-930723-59-7 , pp. 290 (English, online ).
  • Mohammad Iqbal Dar: Flora of West Pakistan 78: Lythraceae. Stewart Herbarium, Gordon College u. a., Rawalpindi 1975 (online) . (Section description)
  • Shirley A. Graham, J. Hall, Kenneth Sytsma, S.-H. Shi: Phylogenetic analysis of the Lythraceae based on four gene regions and morphology. In: International Journal of Plant Science. Volume 166, No. 6, 2005, pp. 995-1017, JSTOR 432631 PDF file .
  • Stefan A. Little, Ruth A. Stockey, Richard C. Keating: Duabanga-like leaves from the Middle Eocene Princeton chert and comparative leaf histology of Lythraceae sensu lato. In: American Journal of Botany. Volume 91, No. 7, 2004, pp. 1126-1139, doi: 10.3732 / ajb.91.7.1126 . (Sections Systematics and Paleontology)
  • Shirley Graham, Taciana Barbosa Cavalcanti: Neotropical Lythraceae at neotropikey . 2009.
  • The families of the Lythraceae , Trapaceae and Sonneratiaceae at DELTA by L. Watson, MJ Dallwitz. (Section description)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Lythraceae at Tropicos.org. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
  2. Lythraceae in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
  3. Shirley A. Graham: Revision of the Caribbean Genus Ginoria (Lythraceae), including Haitia from Hispaniola. In: Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Volume 97, No. 1, 2010, pp. 34-90, doi: 10.3417 / 2007028 .
  4. Jiarui Chen, Bingyang Ding, Michele Funston: Trapaceae. In: Wu Zheng-yi, Peter H. Raven, Deyuan Hong (Eds.): Flora of China . tape 13 : Clusiaceae through Araliaceae . Science Press / Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing / St. Louis 2007, ISBN 978-1-930723-59-7 , pp. 290 (English, online ).
  5. a b c d Entries on Lythraceae in Plants For A Future . Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  6. Christel Kasselmann: aquarium plants. Ulmer, Stuttgart 1995; 2nd edition ibid 1999, ISBN 3-8001-7454-5 , p. 408.
  7. ^ Hans-Georg Kramer: Plant aquaristics á la Kramer. Tetra-Verlag, Berlin-Velten 2009, ISBN 978-3-89745-190-2 , pp. 226-231.

Web links

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