Latin name: Epilobium angustifolium

Family: Onagraceae - Evening Primrose Family

Common name:  Fireweed

Life cycle: perennial, spreading by seed and rhizomes.  Seed are wind blown long distances with a cottony pappus.

Habit:  Fireweed grows upright 4 to 6 feet tall.  

Foliage:  Foliage is alternately arranged, linear, and has a somewhat wavey margin.

Flower: Pink, showy, occurring in clusters on a terminal raceme.

Seed:  Fireweed seed are covered by a white-brown cotton-like tuft of hairs.  This enables the seed to be carried long distances by wind.  

Roots:  Fireweed has a fibrous root system.  Fireweed can spread by rhizomes, which are the primary method of reproduction.    

Notes:  Fireweed gets its name from the fact that it is often the first plant to start growing in forests after fires burn back all other vegetation.  Fireweed was one of the first and the most abundant colonizers of Mt. Saint Helens after it erupted.  It is problematic in nurseries because these sites often mimic conditions after forest fires.  Most other crop production systems are spaced such that plant canopies grow together in several weeks; however, in nursery production, plants are spaced so far apart that it may take at least a year, if not several, for canopies to grow together.  So like a recently burned forest, there is little plant competition in a nursery system, and fireweed thrives.  

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