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
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
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse 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
PropagationDescription: 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
BibliographyBibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
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From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1996 VOL. 13, NO.3 - Hummingbird Gardening, Blooms Beget Butterflies, Butterflies and Hummingbirds Fo...
Additional resourcesUSDA: 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
MetadataRecord Modified: 2016-12-15
Research By: TWC Staff