Seven years ago while taking an evening walk along the Potomac, Steve spotted a yellow-flowering plant lighting up the dusk.
This year I went back to the same place and was happy to find that swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris; Primulaceae) still bloom there.
This species grows up to three feet tall, preferring wet soils. Various authorities state that flowers are borne on terminal racemes, but I often see axillary racemes growing sideways, as shown in the top photo.
Swamp candles are native to eastern North America, ranging from Manitoba to Newfoundland and south to Georgia; they’re also found in a few places in the Pacific northwest, apparently introduced by accident*.
Whenever I see plants like this in wild places, I wonder why they aren’t common in horticulture. This is a handsome plant with beautiful flowers that last a reasonably long time. Surely there’s some place for it in the home landscape.
*the Native Plant Trust’s gobotany website
We have a different type of Lysimachia here (punctata). It is a wonderful plant in flower, and grows wild and in gardens but it spreads.