Lysimachia terrestris (L.) Britton Sterns & Poggenb.
Lysimachia terrestris (L.) Britton Sterns & Poggenb. var. ovata (Rand & Redf.) Fernald
Swamp Candles, Bog Loosestrife, Lake Loosestrife, Earth Loosestrife, Bulbil Loosestrife
Swamp candles—a marvelously appropriate name—sport their ghostly flames along the edges of fresh water, including lakes, swamps, ponds, and seasonally wet areas. They are North American natives.
Plants: 9-36" (22-91 cm) tall, on unbranched or sparingly-branched stems. Stems are light green, with a circular cross section, and smooth.
Leaves: Usually opposite, dotted, 1¼-4" (3.2-10 cm) × ¼-¾" (6.3-19 mm), linear to elliptic, and entire. Leaf tops are hairless; bottoms are paler green and sometimes hairy. Leaves may have no petiole (leaf stem), or a short one.
Flowers: Flowers are the identifying feature of swamp candles, arranged in a near-perfect cylindrical raceme 4-12" (10-30 cm) long, facing outward in all directions, flowering from the bottom up, like a flame racing up a dry plant. Each flower is a five-pointed yellow star, ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) around, with five stamens and a green ovary with a single style. There are two red spots at the base of each petal. Flowers appear from June to August.
Fruits: Fruits are pocked with small depressions, and ¹/₁₆-⅛" (3-3.5 mm) in length. This plant produces curious bublets, segmented red “fruits” at leaf axils, resembling little red hairless caterpillars. I cannot find any credible information on the purpose of the bulblets.
Lysimachia terrestris at Illinois Wildflowers
Lysimachia terrestris at Minnesota Wildflowers
Lysimachia terrestris on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site
Lysimachia terrestris on the New England Wildflower Society’s GoBotany site
Lysimachia terrestris on eFloras
Lysimachia terrestris description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.
Range: Zones 3-8: