Lysimachia quadrifolia (Whorled Loosestrife)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Myrsinaceae (Myrsine)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Special Concern
Habitat:part shade; dry to average moisture; hardwood forest, savanna
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:12 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
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: whorled

[photo of flowers] Flowers are long stalked, arising from leaf axils, 1 flower per axil. Flowers are ½-inch across, star-shaped with 5 yellow petals, sometimes with a few red streaks on the surface and/or red tinged around the edges. Petals are red at the base, forming a ring around a center column of red-tipped yellow stamens, that are fused at the base and which surround the style.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are generously spaced along the stem, whorled in groups of 3 to 7 but typically 4 or 5. Leaves are oval to lance elliptic, 1¼ to 4½ inches long and 1/3 to 1½ inches wide, pointed at the tip, tapering or rounded at the base, toothless, with little to no stalk. Leaf edges and underside may be covered in scattered fine hairs. The upper surface is covered in small darkened pits. Stems are erect, usually unbranched, smooth to finely hairy, especially at the leaf nodes.


The star-shaped flowers and pitted leaves distinguish Whorled Loosestrife from other yellow loosestrifes that have long-stalked flowers in the axils, and its typically (in Minnesota) drier forest habitat further separates it from the rest. According to the DNR, Lysimachia quadrifolia was unknown in Minnesota until 1980 when a plant survey discovered it at St. Croix State Park. Further surveys uncovered several more populations in the park but in 2009 the plant was still unknown outside of Pine county and had been listed as a Special Concern species in 1996. However, working as a Master Naturalist volunteer for the DNR, Katy Chayka discovered and photographed a specimen in 2007 at Wild River State Park in Chisago County, As identifying rare plant species had not been part of her Master Naturalist training, a connection wasn't made until 2011 when she notified Natural Heritage Program staff with her discovery. A follow-up survey of the area in the spring of 2012 revealed a substantial new population in the immediate vicinity of the specimen she photographed back in 2007. A more thorough survey of the St. Croix River valley may yet reveal additional populations.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County.


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

Posted by: Jane - St.Croix river area Wisconsin side
on: 2015-05-02 11:45:25

I live one block from the St.Croix River and I have recently discovered a amost identicle wild flower growing abundantly in my lawn.

Posted by: Gregory Oja - Bemidji
on: 2020-06-30 12:46:21

Found it growing on our woodland trail. Photo available.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-06-30 12:57:06

Gregory, if that is indeed what you saw it would be an unusual find, quite far from the western-most known population, but I suspect you saw something else. If you'd like confirmation, post your photos on the Minnesota Wildflowers Facebook page.

After further consideration, it was determined you saw Lysimachia ciliata, fringed loosestrife. It has opposite leaves where whorled loosetrife has leaves whorled in 4s and 5s, and the flower shape is different between the two, fringed loosestrife having much broader petals.

Posted by: Bev stelljes - Eau claire wi
on: 2022-07-04 16:30:42

Many of these growing in a wet sandy area.

Posted by: Cal Harth - Arlone Twp, Pine County
on: 2024-01-28 07:08:52

My experience is like yours, Katy, but earlier in time. In the mid-seventies I had a farm near St Croix park in the same outwash plain. My friends and I learned wildflowers together, and we both had diversity of loosestrifes on our land.Whorled Loosestrife grew in dry shaded woods in clumps near the park. Mowing roads and trails for the park since 2018 has allowed me to informally census this loosestrife. It is doing well.

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