E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Epilobium angustifolium L.
Onagraceae (Evening Primrose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© David Blevins  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #521)

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Distribution of Epilobium angustifolium
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from widespread rhizome-like root; stems erect, 1-3 m tall, usually simple, glabrous except for fine minute hairs in the inflorescence and on the ovaries.
Alternate, narrowly lanceolate, (5) 10-15 (20) cm long, entire or finely toothed, green, veiny below; nearly stalkless.
Inflorescence a many-flowered, terminal raceme, elongating, flowers nodding in bud; hypanthium practically lacking; petals 8-20 mm long, the upper 2 wider than lower 2, deep pink to magenta, rarely white; sepals narrowly lanceolate, 7-16 mm long; anthers 1.5-2.2 mm long; ovaries 0.8-1.8 cm long, densely short-hairy; styles longer than the stamens, hairy on the lower portion; stigmas 4-lobed.
Capsules, 4-10 cm long, densely short-hairy; seeds spindle-shaped, 1-1.3 mm long, surface irregularly netted, tuft of soft hairs persistent, 9-14 mm long, white; stalks 7-20 mm long.
Two sympatric subspecies occur in BC:

1. Leaves long and gradually tapering to the tip, nearly unstalked, often less than 2 cm wide and 10 cm long; midrib glabrous beneath....................... ssp. angustifolium

1. Leaves blunt to sharp-pointed (rarely gradually tapering), with stalks 1-7 mm long, mostly over 2 cm wide and 10 cm long, midrib glabrous to hairy beneath.................... ssp. circumvagum Mosquin

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic open forests, thickets, meadows, roadsides, burns, clearings and waste places in all vegetation zones; abundant throughout BC (ssp. circumvagum more common along coast than interior); circumboreal, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF, and S to CA and VA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Epilobium angustifolium

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 5 1181 2619
Slope Gradient (%) -5 20 262
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 186 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(54), BAFA(54), BG(9), BWBS(1373), CMA(5), CWH(416), ESSF(2998), ICH(989), IDF(543), IMA(20), MH(52), MS(1059), PP(17), SBPS(471), SBS(2470), SWB(331)

Ecological Indicator Information

A very shade-intolerant, submontane to subalpine, circumpolar forb (transcontinental in North America). Grows on recently cutover and/or burnt sites within boreal, temperate, and cool mesothermal climates; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation. Scattered to abundant (often dominant) in herbaceous communities on a wide range of sites where it indicates increased decomposition of the remaining forest floor materials (originally Mor humus forms). In some situations, high-density stands of this species may hinder the survival and growth of forest plantations. Commonly associated with Polytrichum juniperinum. A nitrophytic species characteristic of fire-disturbed sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Chamaenerion angustifolium subsp. circumvagum (Mosquin) Moldenke
Chamerion angustifolium var. canescens (Alph. Wood) N.H. Holmgren & P.K. Holmgren
Chamerion danielsii D. Löve
Chamerion platyphyllum (Daniels) A. Löve & D. Löve
Epilobium angustifolium subsp. circumvagum Mosquin
Epilobium angustifolium subsp. macrophyllum (Hausskn.) Hultén
Epilobium angustifolium var. abbreviatum (Lunell) Munz
Epilobium angustifolium var. canescens Alph. Wood
Epilobium angustifolium var. macrophyllum (Hausskn.) Fernald
Epilobium angustifolium var. platyphyllum (Daniels) Fernald

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References