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Chamerion angustifolium (Fireweed)
Glase, Terry

Chamerion angustifolium

Chamerion angustifolium (L.) Holub

Fireweed, Willow herb, Great willow herb

Onagraceae (Evening-Primrose Family)

Synonym(s):

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.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Flower:
Fruit:

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep

Distribution

USA: AK , AL , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , IA , ID , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SD , TN , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , NT , NU , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Throughout most of western North America; from British Columbia east to Newfoundland, south to North Carolina, west to Tennessee, and northwest to Illinois, Iowa, and North Dakota. Southwest from California north to Washington. In the far north from Alaska to Nunavit.
Native Habitat: Disturbed soil in cool areas, from the lowlands well into the mountains, frequent along highways and in burned areas; hence one common name.

Benefit

Use Wildlife: Attracts bees, moths and hummingbirds.
Use Other: Older stems have been split lengthwise to scrape out the soft, edible centre (pith) and to prepare the tough stem fibres for making them into twine and fishnets. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Larval Host: White lined sphinx moth

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Bibliography

Bibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Chamerion angustifolium in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Chamerion angustifolium in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Chamerion angustifolium

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2014-03-28
Research By: TWC Staff

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