Also known as the narrow-leaf fireweed or the willow herb, the fireweed is from the evening-primrose family of plants. It is native to the United States. Botanically, it is Chamerion angustifolium ssp. angustifolium or its synonym Epilobium angustifolium.
Growing three to five feet high, this clumping flowering perennial has erect stems and showy flowers. Stems are red, with alternate elongated leaves. Flowers are on a tapering spike, rose-purple in color, and bloom between June and August. Seeds are carried on the wind by a tuft of hairs after breaking out of a slender pod. Blooms are four-petaled and about an inch wide.
The fireweed prefers to grow in full sun with a moist well-drained soil that is nearly neutral in pH. Propagate by seed or by division. Seed will need a month of cold stratification.
The fireweed is found in the states of Alaska, Montana, Washington and Wyoming. It is generally seen in low wet areas, roadsides, and dry clearings.
Fireweed Food Source
The young shoots and leaves can be cooked like greens and eaten. Older stems can have the pith, or edible soft center, scooped out to cook as well.
Tough stems are prepared as fiber and made into fishnets or twine.
This native gets its name from the fact that it will invade a burned out forest to form a rich display of color.
This can begin to be weedy, so you’ll have to watch it depending on where you decide to grow it.