Saturday, December 14, 2019

Mexican Primrosewillow - Ludwigia octovalvis

Mexican primrosewillow (Ludwigia octovalvis), despite its common name, is native to every county in Florida and throughout the Southeast Coastal Plain states from Texas to North Carolina. Throughout its range, it occurs in seasonally wet open habitats such as lake edges, roadside ditches, and marshes. This is a large genus and contains nearly 30 native species as well as the very aggressive nonnative - Peruvian primrosewillow (L. peruviana). All are wetland species.
Mexican primrosewillow is not nearly as robust as its Peruvian cousin. This perennial herbaceous plant may reach 3-4 feet tall by late fall before it dies back to the ground. The foliage is elliptical and willow-like. Each leaf is about 12 inches long with decided veins. They alternate along the stem.
Flowering occurs from late spring to fall. The flowers are typical of the genus - 4 bright yellow petals with stout green sepals immediately below it, standing well above the ovary. The petals are about 3/4 inch long with a decided notch at the apex. The ripe ovary forms a distinctive seed capsule, indicative of all members of this genus. In this species, there are 8 carpals or "valves", giving it its Latin name.  The sepals remain at the top of these capsules.
Primrose willows are common throughout Florida in wet to moist habitats. They are pollinated primarily by bees and are useful components to wetland plantings. Despite this, few, if any, are routinely propagated. They are easy from seed, however. If you plant them, they are very likely to spread into suitable habitat.

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