Alaska Fireweed 2009

Vogel Lake, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska 2009

  • Chamerion angustifolium (L.) Holub
  • Fireweed, Willow herb, Great willow herb
  • Onagraceae (Evening-Primrose Family)
  • USDA Symbol: CHAN9
  • USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)

Pink spires of flowers bloom at tops of tall, erect, leafy stems with narrow willow-like leaves.

Often grows in spectacular dense patches, and though attractive, it is aggressive in a moist garden, spreading from persistent underground stems. The seeds are dispersed far and wide by long, white, silky hairs. Bees value it as a source of nectar, and the very young shoots and leaves can be eaten as cooked greens. Recent work at the genetic level has shown that Chamerion, recognized by its alternate leaves, is distinct from Epilobium (with leaves opposite, at least near base), the genus in which Fireweed was formerly placed.

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