COMMON NAME

Moneywort


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME

Lysimachia nummularia L.


FAMILY NAME COMMON

Primrose family


FAMILY SCIENTIFIC NAME

Lysimachia nummularia


IMAGES


Flowers and Leaves

NOMENCLATURE/SYNONYMS

Synonyms: None


DESCRIPTION

Botanical Glossary

Lysimachia nummularia is an herbaceous mat forming perennial with smooth creeping stems. It can grow up to 61 cm (2 ft.) long and from 5.1-10.2 cm (2-4 in.) high. Its leaves are opposite, nearly sessile, broadly quadrate to subrotund in shape (roundish) and typically 1-3 cm (0.4-1.2 in.) long. The flowers of Lysimachia nummularia are solitary in the leaf axils and have pedicels that are about the same length as the leaves. The flower is 2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 in.) wide and has five spreading, broadly ovate petals that are yellow with small dark red spots. The sepals are ovate/triangular in shape and 5-9 mm (0.2-0.35 in.) in length . Lysimachia nummularia flowers from June to August, though very often it does not flower at all. Its small seeds are borne in capsular fruits that are roughly as long as its sepals. Page References Bailey 784, Crow & Hellquist 171, Fernald 1141, Gleason & Cronquist 222, Holmgren 201, Magee & Ahles 824, Newcomb 266, Peterson & McKenny 140. See reference section below for full citations.


SIMILAR SPECIES

Veronica officinalis L. (Common gypsyweed)
Glechoma hederaceae L. (Gill-over-the-ground)
Mitchella repens L. (Partridgeberry) All three of these herbaceous plants are common and have a creeping habit that, when not in flower, could lead to confusion.


REPRODUCTIVE/DISPERSAL MECHANISMS

In North America Lysimachia nummularia is not known to produce viable seeds, and so it spreads only vegetatively. It expands locally by way of its creeping stems, forming large colonies. These colonies can be found in isolated places, indicating that the plant also has a mechanism to disperse vegetatively over longer distances.


DISTRIBUTION

Lysimachia nummularia is native to Europe and southwest Asia. In North America it is found in eastern Canada and throughout the eastern United States with the exception of Florida. It also is found in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada and the three west coast states.


HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND

It is unclear exactly when Lysimachia nummularia arrived in New England. Records from several locations in Massachusetts and the vicinity of New York City demonstrate that it was present as least as early as the 1870s. By the end of the 19th century there are many records of Lysimachia nummularia from around New England and it was already recognized as a potentially troublesome weed in some locations (Rhodora, Vol. 1, p. 164). By 1902, Williams' List of New England Plants (Rhodora, Vol. 4, p. 16) records its presence in all of the states of New England. Gray's Manual of Botany, 7th edition (Robinson, 1908) states that Lysimachia nummularia had "escaped from gardens into damp ground in some places." It seems clear that Lysimachia nummularia was introduced for horticultural purposes; to what extent it might also have been accidentally introduced is unclear.


HABITATS IN NEW ENGLAND

Early Successional Forest, Floodplain Forest, Herbaceous Wetland, Lake or Pond, River or Stream, Roadside, Wet Meadow, Yard or Garden

Lysimachia nummularia is fairly widespread in New England and can be found in a variety of different habitat types; however, it grows most vigorously and poses the biggest threat in moist areas such as wet meadows and along the banks of small water bodies.


THREATS

By spreading quickly and forming dense mats of vegetation, Lysmachia nummularia can potentially threaten native vegetation, most notably in moist habitats. For instance, it has been known to choke small springs and seeps in rich woods. It is used horticulturally as a ground cover, particularly for moist sunny sites such as the banks of ornamental ponds, but can become a pest in gardens, pastures and lawns.


MANAGEMENT LINKS

Illinois Natural History Survey
General description and management guidelines


DOCUMENTATION NEEDS

Documentation required: Herbarium specimen or mounted snippet of the branch with flowers or fruits.
Best time for documentation: Summer, fall.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Bioimages: The Virtual Field Guide
A collection of images of Lysimachia nummularia from Europe

Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Taxonomic information about the species

The PLANTS Database
General information and map


REFERENCES

Bailey, L. H.  1949.  Manual of Cultivated Plants.  Macmillan, New York.

Britton, N. L. and A. Brown.  1970.  An Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States vol. 2.  Dover Publications Inc., New York. 

Crow G.E. and C.B. Hellquist. 2000. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Northeastern North America. Vol #1. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th ed. American Book Co., Boston.

Gleason H.A. and A.C. Cronquist.  1991.  Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed.  New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Holmgren N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual.  New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Magee D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999.  Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Newcomb N. 1977.  Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.  Little Brown, Boston.

Peterson R.T. and M. McKenny. 1968. A field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America.  Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Ray, Jr., J.D. 1956.  The Genus Lysimachia in the New World.  Illinois Biological Monographs 24 (3-4): 55-60.

USDA, NRCS.  2001.  The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov).  National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.