Yellowstone Fireweed

Yellowstone National Park, Gardner Hole, September 2012

Chamerion angustifolium, commonly known as fireweed (mainly in North America), great willow-herb (some parts of Canada),[1] or rosebay willowherb (mainly in Britain), is a perennial herbaceous plant in the willowherb family Onagraceae. It is native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, including large parts of the boreal forests.

The reddish stems of this herbaceous perennial are usually simple, erect, smooth, 0.5–2.5 m (1½–8 feet) high with scattered alternate leaves. The leaves are entire, lanceolate, and pinnately veined. A related species, dwarf fireweed (Chamerion latifolium), grows to 0.3–0.6 m tall.

This herb is often abundant in wet calcareous to slightly acidic soils in open fields, pastures, and particularly burned-over lands; the name Fireweed derives from the species' abundance as a coloniser on burnt sites after forest fires. Its tendency to quickly colonize open areas with little competition, such as sites of forest fires and forest clearings, makes it a clear example of a pioneer species. Plants grow and flower as long as there is open space and plenty of light. As trees and brush grow larger the plants die out, but the seeds remain viable in the soil seed bank for many years; when a new fire or other disturbance occurs that opens up the ground to light again, the seeds germinate. Some areas with heavy seed counts in the soil can, after burning, be covered with pure dense stands of this species and when in flower the landscape is turned into fields of color.

Sourced from: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/ -- and -- Wikipedia

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