Great willowherb

Great Willowherb

©Neil Wyatt

Great willowherb

Scientific name: Epilobium hirsutum
A tall and hairy plant, Great willowherb displays pretty pink-and-cream flowers. It can be found in damp places, such as wet grasslands, ditches and riversides.

Species information


Height: up to 2m

Conservation status


When to see

July to August


Great willowherb is a large herb that flourishes on damp ground, such as wet grasslands, ditches, riversides and woodland clearings. Deep pink flowers appear on the top of hairy stems from July to August and its fluffy seeds are dispersed by the wind.

How to identify

Great willowherb is a tall plant that is covered in soft, downy hair. Its small, purple-pink flowers have creamy centres, and the lance-shaped leaves sit opposite each other on the stems.


Found throughout the UK, but less common in Scotland.

Did you know?

Great willowherb is also sometimes known as 'Codlins-and-cream'. Codlins are actually cooking apples, so this name may well have arisen from the rosy pink flowers with their creamy centres. Other names, such as 'Apple-pie' and 'Cherry-pie', seem to follow the same idea.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.