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Chamerion angustifolium ssp. angustifolium (Fireweed)
Le Duc, F. Alice

Chamerion angustifolium ssp. angustifolium

Chamerion angustifolium (L.) Holub ssp. angustifolium

Fireweed, Narrow-leaf Fireweed, Willow Herb

Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family)

Synonym(s): Chamaenerion angustifolium, Chamerion angustifolium var. angustifolium, Chamerion spicatum, Epilobium angustifolium, Epilobium angustifolium var. intermedium, Epilobium spicatum

USDA Symbol: chana2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N)

Narrow-leaf fireweed is a showy, clumped perennial, commonly growing 3-5 ft. tall. The erect stems are usually reddish, have numerous elongate, alternate leaves, and end in a tapering spike of rosy-purple flowers. Flowers have four petals and are 1 in. across. The seeds, which are windborne by a tuft of hairs, are produced in slender pods that open from the top downward.

Fireweed is a sun-loving plant that quickly invades burned out forests to form dense masses of color.


From the Image Gallery

39 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

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


USA: AK , MT , WA , WY
Canada: BC , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: AK & sub-artic Canada, s. to MD, mts. to NC & TN, n. OH, n.e. IA, Black Hills, NM & CA
Native Habitat: Dry clearings; burned woodlands; roadsides; low, wet places

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Well-drained, moist to dry soils.
Conditions Comments: Fireweed can become weedy in a garden setting. It derives its name from the fact that it quickly invades burned out forests to form dense masses of color. This plant must have sun.


Use Wildlife: Butterflies, Bees
Use Food: 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). The very young shoots and leaves can be eaten as cooked greens. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Plant seeds outside in fall. Seeds will germinate most quickly if soils are moist and warm. Seedlings will flower the second year. Division is another propagation method.
Seed Collection: Approximate collection date in northern U.S.: Mid Aug. to Sep.
Seed Treatment: One month of stratification at 40 degrees may improve germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1996 VOL. 13, NO.3 - Hummingbird Gardening, Blooms Beget Butterflies, Butterflies and Hummingbirds Fo...

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-12-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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