American water willow is common on gravel bars and other stream banks throughout much of Missouri. The dense colonies of emergent stems have leaves like a willow’s, but the two-lipped flowers resemble little orchids.
The flowers of water willow are nothing like the catkins of true willows. They are clustered into headlike groups and are about ¾ inch long with a notched upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip. The upper lip is light purple, rarely white; the lower lip white or pale purple with purple markings. It blooms May through October.
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