Fireweed

Fireweed - Myrtales Onagraceae Epilobium angustifolium

 
 

Identification & Description:
Fireweed pinky purple flowers grows from 0.5 to 3 metres in height.
Fireweed is usually found in woodland areas that have been cleared or burned off. Very striking plant especially in mass. Long seed pods make collecting easy

Fireweed is a beautiful "pioneer species, being one of the first plants to take hold in disturbed soil, preparing it for other less hardy plants. It flowers in August and sets hillsides ablaze. It is quite tall and can easily reach seven feet or more. The seed pods are long and narrow, filled with delicate fuzzy seeds. The young plant was eaten by Native Americans.

Leaves
- long (up to 8 inches long), narrow, lance-shaped
- veins can be observed on the underside
- alternate on the stem


Flowers
- rose, purple or mauve, large
- many clustered along the top part of the reddish stems
- yellow stamens
- 3 cm. or 1.2 in. across
- are evident throughout the summer

Fruit
- narrow seed pods that split and release a multitude of tiny, fluffy, white seeds
- green or red

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 relative species, Dwarf Fireweed (Epilobium latifolium) grows up to 0.3-0.6 m tall.

The radially symmetrical flowers have four magenta to pink petals and are 2-3 cm in diameter. The styles have four stigmas. They occur in symmetrical terminal racemes.

The reddish-brown linear seed capsule splits from the apex. It bears many minute brown seeds, about 300-400 per capsule and 80,000 per plant. The seeds have silky hairs to aid wind dispersal and are very easily spread by the wind, often becoming a weed and a dominant species on disturbed ground. Once established, the plants also spread extensively by underground roots, an individual plant eventually forming a large patch.

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