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Broad-leaved Willowherb

This is the commonest of the willowherbs. They can be seen in hedgerows, woods, rocky ground and gardens throughout the whole of Scotland.

The flowers have four rose-coloured petal-lobes protruding from a long flower tube, with a tiny white cross-shaped stigma in the centre of each flower. This extends after flowering into a long capsule containing the seeds. The capsule eventually peels open to release the seeds each with pappii, or a sprig of fine downy hairs, which help the seed to be dispersed on the wind.

The leaves are lance-shaped, tapering to a point, and broadly round at the base, hence the species nomenclature. They each have forward facing and finely pointed serrations around the edge.

The willowherbs all belong to the same family as evening primrose, and are often used in herbal medicine. It is still considered by herbalists to be an effective cure for enlarged prostate, bladder and urinary problems. They recommend steeping the leaves in a cup of boiled water for 5-10 minutes and drinking twice a day for several weeks.

The broadleaved willowherb is a valuable food source for many types of moth including the striped hawk moth, a rare sight in Scotland.

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