|Monday Melange: Fireweed|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 02 August 2010|
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium or Epilobium angustifolium) is an herbaceous plant native to the northwestern states of Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and Minnesota, as well as Alaska but can be found throughout the US except for the southeastern states. Anyone who has ever lived or traveled in the magnificent state of Alaska is familiar with the ubiquitous fireweed that signals the beginning--and the end--of summer.
A member of the evening primrose plant family (Onagraceae), fireweed is hardy between USDA zones 1 and 9 and goes by a couple of other names including blooming sally and rosebay willowherb in Britain. The large pink flowers (1-inch) of fireweed bloom during the summer months and are attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds. It grows 3 to 7 feet high. It is grown from seed but can also be propagated by division of the root ball. Once established, fireweed spreads via rhizomes.
Fireweed is a pioneer species colonizing disturbed sites particularly those left bare as the result of fire, and is also used to re-vegetate places where oil spills have occurred. It grows best in full sunlight and can be an aggressive species in a controlled setting such as a garden, so it's better suited to open fields.
Fireweed is listed as endangered in Ohio and Indiana and of special concern in Tennessee.
Photo sources: Mary Hopson, www.turtlepuddle.org