Epilobium angustifolium, commonly known as Fireweed, is a showy perennial, growing 3-5 ft tall with reddish erect stems and numerous elongate leaves that end in a tapering spike of rosy-purple flowers. These flowers, which have four petals and are 1 in. across, attract bees, moths, and hummingbirds, making it a great addition to any pollinator garden.
Fireweed is a sun-loving plant that thrives in well-drained, moist to dry soils with a pH range of 6.8-7.2. It quickly invades burned-out forests to form dense masses of colour, making it a great plant for naturalizing an area. However, it can become weedy in a garden setting and requires regular maintenance to keep it in check.
Not only is Fireweed aesthetically pleasing, but it also has medicinal and edible uses. The herb is antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, emollient, hypnotic, laxative, and tonic, making it useful in treating diarrhea, mucous colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and prostate problems. The leaves and young shoot tips can be eaten raw or cooked and are a good source of vitamins A and C. The root, flower stalks, and pith of young or older stems are also edible and have a slightly sweet taste. Furthermore, the outer stems can be used to make cordage, and the “cottony” seed hairs are used as a stuffing material or as a tinder.
Overall, Epilobium angustifolium is a beautiful, versatile plant with aesthetic and practical benefits. Whether you’re a gardener, herbalist, or just looking for a beautiful addition to your landscape, Fireweed is a great choice.
References https://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/ https://www.wildflower.org/plants/ http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/ Photo credit Wikipedia
General: Perennial herb from widespread rhizome-like root; stems erect, 1-3 m tall, usually simple, glabrous except for fine minute hairs in the inflorescence and on the ovaries.
Leaves: Alternate, narrowly lanceolate, (5) 10-15 (20) cm long, entire or finely toothed, green, veiny below; nearly stalkless.
Flowers: Inflorescence a many-flowered, terminal raceme, elongating, flowers nodding in bud; hypanthium practically lacking; petals 8-20 mm long, the upper 2 wider than lower 2, deep pink to magenta, rarely white; sepals narrowly lanceolate, 7-16 mm long; anthers 1.5-2.2 mm long; ovaries 0.8-1.8 cm long, densely short-hairy; styles longer than the stamens, hairy on the lower portion; stigmas 4-lobed.
Fruits: Capsules, 4-10 cm long, densely short-hairy; seeds spindle-shaped, 1-1.3 mm long, surface irregularly netted, tuft of soft hairs persistent, 9-14 mm long, white; stalks 7-20 mm long.