Known as the railway herb as its so often found on railway embankment, this weed can often find its way into our gardens. Spreading by seed or creeping rhizomes it can make a spectacular sight with its pink flowers on tall stems. Rosebay willowherb is quick growing and produces abundant fluffy seeds which are readily carried on the wind. The roots are long, branched and spreading and give rise to new leafy shoots producing large weed patches.
Rosebay Willowherb has lance-like leaves which are arranged spirally up its stem.
Rosebay Willowherb is a tall plant with pink flowers rising up a flower spike; these flowers appear from June to September.
The tall, pink flower spikes of Rosebay Willowherb can often be seen crowding together in thick stands in open spaces such as woodland clearings, roadside verges, grassland and waste ground. It is also a common garden weed.
Cultural methods such as hoeing and forking-out are effective against this shallow-rooted weed. Opaque mulching films can also be used to suppress its growth around woody plants or on unplanted beds.
You can spot treat carefully with the non-selective weedkiller glyphosate.
Rosebay Willowherb is an adaptable friend. Most parts of the plant are edible, medicinal and have other fantastic properties. In the Springtime the young shoots and leaves can be eaten raw, and as they get older need to be steamed or boiled for 10 minutes. Treat the shoots like asparagus.
Peel the roots, gently pound them and use as a poultice for skin damage such as burns, sores, swellings, boils and other similar hindrances. The leaves as a tea act as a tonic for the whole system, helping digestion and inflammation, but don’t drink too much because they’re also a laxative.