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Toxic parts

An infusion of the leaves is said to stupefy a person[1].

Edible uses


Leaves and young shoot tips - raw or cooked[2][3][4][5][6][7]. They can be used in salads or cooked as a vegetable[8]. When boiled they make a wholesome vegetable and are a good source of vitamins A and C[2][9]. Only use the leaves when they are young[10]. Although they are said to be edible, another report says that an infusion of them can stupefy[1].

Young shoots - cooked. They make a good asparagus substitute[2][8][7][11]. Root - raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder[12][6]. Used in spring, it has a sweet taste[4][12]. Flower stalks - raw or cooked[10][13][6][7]. Added to salads, they are used when the flowers are in bud[7]. The pith of young or older stems - raw or cooked[5][14][7]. Slightly sweet, tender and pleasing to eat, though there is not much of it[10][6]. Gelatinous[15], it can be used as a flavouring in soups[7]. The stems are said to be a good laxative, but are best not eaten on an empty stomach[16].

A tea is made from the dried leaves[8][5][10][17][7], it is sweet and pleasant[6]. Called 'kaporie' tea in Russia, it contains 10% tannin[18]. The leaves are also used as an adulterant of China tea[2].



Unknown part


Material uses

A fibre obtained from the outer stems is used to make cordage[14][19][16].

The 'cottony' seed hairs are used as a stuffing material[14][20] or as a tinder[13][6].

The powdered inner cortex is applied to the hands and face to give protection from the cold[14][6][9].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Willow herb is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, though it is little used in conventional herbalism.

The herb is antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, emollient, hypnotic, laxative and tonic[1][21][6][22]. It is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, mucous colitis and irritable bowel syndrome[23]. The plant is used in Germany and Austria to treat prostate problems[23]. A poultice of the leaves is applied to mouth ulcers[18]. An extract of the leaves has anti-inflammatory activity[18]. An ointment made from the leaves has been used to soothe skin problems in children[23]. A tea made from the leaves and roots is a folk remedy for dysentery and abdominal cramps[18].

A poultice made from the peeled roots is applied to burns, skin sores, swellings, boils etc[18][9].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow early spring in situ or as soon as the seed is ripe[24]. This plant is more than capable of finding its own way into most gardens and does not usually require an invitation. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Epilobium angustifolium. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


An easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained but moisture retentive soil in a sunny position[25], though it succeeds in most soils[26]. It prefers a moist soil[24], but also succeeds on dry banks[27]. It is best grown in open woodland[26].

Plants are hardy to at least -20°c[28]. The rosebay willowherb spreads vigorously by means of a creeping rhizome, and often forms large patches[28]. It is apt to become a weed especially through its seed which is very light and capable of travelling long distances in the wind. It is often one of the first plants to colonize disturbed areas such as scenes of fires[26][25]. A very ornamental plant[26], it is the floral emblem of the Yukon[6].

A food plant for the caterpillars of several lepidoptera species[29], it is also a good bee plant[12][17].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Epilobium angustifolium. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Epilobium angustifolium.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Epilobium angustifolium
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    2 x 1 meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
    4. ? Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
    5. ? Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
    6. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    7. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    8. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    9. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    10. ? Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    12. ? Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    13. ? Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-090-x (1975-00-00)
    14. ? Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology. British Columbia Provincial Museum ISBN 0-7718-8117-7 (1979-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. ()
    16. ? Turner. N. J. Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples UBC Press. Vancouver. ISBN 0-7748-0533-1 (1995-00-00)
    17. ? Sweet. M. Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West. Naturegraph Co. ISBN 0-911010-54-8 (1962-00-00)
    18. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.1 Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2624-6 (1993-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 Gunther. E. Ethnobotany of Western Washington. University of Washington Press ISBN 0-295-95258-X (1981-00-00)
    21. ? 21.021.1 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    22. ? 22.022.1 Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants Studio Vista ISBN 0-289-70864-8 (1979-00-00)
    23. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    24. ? 24.024.1 Sanders. T. W. Popular Hardy Perennials. Collingridge (1926-00-00)
    25. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    26. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    27. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
    28. ? 28.028.1 Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2. Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30936-9 (1991-00-00)
    29. ? Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden. ()
    30. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-17

    Cite error: <ref> tag with name "PFAFimport-13" defined in <references> is not used in prior text.

    Facts about "Epilobium angustifolium"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyOnagraceae +
    Belongs to genusEpilobium +
    Has binomial nameEpilobium angustifolium +
    Has common nameWillow Herb +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFlowers +, Leaves +, Root +, Stem + and Unknown part +
    Has edible useUnknown use + and Tea +
    Has fertility typeBees +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has growth rateVigorous +
    Has hardiness zone3 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useFibre +, Stuffing +, Tinder + and Weather protection +
    Has mature height2 +
    Has mature width1 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntiinflammatory +, Antispasmodic +, Astringent +, Demulcent +, Emollient +, Hypnotic +, Laxative +, Poultice + and Tonic +
    Has search nameepilobium angustifolium + and willow herb +
    Has shade toleranceLight shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameEpilobium angustifolium +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium +, Epilobium angustifolium + and Epilobium angustifolium +