My garden is located in North east of Toronto. I am trying to grow a native a garden and while weeding I found some fringed willow herb. Is this native to Ontario specifically? Should I keep this plant?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
Fringed willow-herb, Epilobium ciliatum, is native to North America and that includes most areas in Canada and the USA. It is widespread due to its great ability to self seed – the seeds being plumed, light and easily carried on the wind. It will grow in most conditions but favours areas that are moist such as riverbanks, swamps, wetlands and forest floors.
Although native, this plant is also quite invasive and will take over your garden if you let it, so I would recommend an abundance of caution or you will be weeding it out forever. Your volunteer plant has probably grown from seed deposited by wind, animals, birds or nursery stock that had seed within the soil of a different plant.
A word of caution too – if you live in or abut an environmentally sensitive area such as a ravine, forest, park, conservation area or wetland, please remove the plant before it goes to seed and dispose of it in your garbage, not in your compost or city garden waste.
Hope this information is helpful.