Lysimachia terrestris (Swamp Candles)

Plant Info
Also known as: Swamp Loosestrife, Earth Loosestrife
Family:Myrsinaceae (Myrsine)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist thickets, marshes, grassy shores
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] Spike-like raceme 6 inches or longer of ½ to ¾-inch yellow flowers with reddish lines down the center of each petal. At the base of each petal are red dots that surround the 5 long protruding stamens, which are also streaked yellow and red. One plant may have multiple clusters, at the top of the plant and arising from upper leaf axils.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 4 inches long ¾ inch wide, toothless and hairless, tapering to a point at each end with no leaf stalk, oppositely attached. The leaf surface is covered in tiny dots. Stems are smooth and green.

[photo of bulblets] Late in the season reddish bulblets, resembling caterpillars, can form in the leaf axils. These are what's been described as “suppressed branchlets” and may be mistaken for fruit.


All of the Lysimachia species were formerly in the Primulaceae (Primrose) family, but have been moved to the Myrsinaceae (Myrsine) family.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Savanna Portage State Park. Photos courtesy Rick Stich taken in Cass County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Deane - Cass co, near Hackensack
on: 2012-07-09 22:52:10

This was blooming at the end of the boardwalk in the bog at Deep Portage Conservation Reserve.

Posted by: Julie L
on: 2017-07-02 21:08:39

What other flowers can be confused with Lysimachia terrestris? I am seeing something very similar but without the red lines on the petals, and without the red tinge at the base of the petals. Every other characteristic is the same. The one I'm seeing is spreading fast, and is growing in full shade at a rocky edge, under sugar maples. So I'm wondering if that is why it doesn't have the red coloring on the petals. I can send you photos.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-07-03 05:36:08

Julie, L. terrestris is a wetland species and it's highly unlikely it would be found as a spreading volunteer on a rocky ledge. Please post images on our Facebook page.

Posted by: Marilyn L - Voyageurs National Park
on: 2017-08-18 05:06:58

These pretty little flowers were growing on one of the Islands at Kabetogoma.

Posted by: Bob MacNeal - Pequaywan Lake
on: 2023-07-08 06:28:26

Noticed these in part to full sun but sheltered by other species along the natural shoreline of our lake cabin.

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