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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Chamerion angustifolium

Fireweed

Flowering Period: May, Jun May June
Flower color: red Flower color: pink
Full sun Mostly sunny
Moist soil Dry soil


At a Glance: Tall perennial from rhizome like roots with unbranched stem and terminal spikes of large red to pink flowers.

Height: Up to 10 feet (3 meters), but usually shorter than 6 feet (2 meters).
Growth Form: Herb.
Stems: Unbranched, red to green.
Leaves: Alternate, lance-shaped, stalkless, 5-20 cm long, green and often short-hairy above, paler, hairless and distinctly veined below, smooth-margined; size: 5-20 cm (2-8 in) long.
Flowers: Stalked, sepals 4, petals 4, stigma 4 lobed; several to many (15+) in long cluster atop stem; primary color: pink to red/purple; size: 2-4 cm (0.8-1.5 in) wide.
Flowering Period: May, June.
Fruits: Pod-like capsules, long and narrow, green to red, 4 chambered, splitting open to disgorge hundreds of fluffy white seeds; size: 4-9 cm (1.5-3.5 in) long.

Chamerion angustifolium
Photo © Starflower Foundation
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Sun/Shade Tolerance Hydrology Elevation Range
full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%

wet
moist
dry

low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
(data not available)

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites

Wildlife Value
Berries
Seeds
Nectar for hummingbirds
Nectar for butterflies
Host for insect larvae
Thickets and shelter
Thorny or protective cover

Birds: Attracts hummingbirds.
Insects: Attracts butterflies and bees.


Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts
Material Uses: The Haida used the outer stem fibers to make cord. The Coast Salish used the seed fluff in weaving and padding. The Saanich and other Vancouver Island groups along with the Squamish and Puget Sound groups added the seed fluff to dog hair or mountain goat wool and wove the mixture into clothing or blankets. The Saanich used seed fluff with duck feathers to stuff mattresses. The Quinault and Skokomish used fluff with duck feathers to make blankets.
Medicinal Uses: Leaves rich in vitamin C can be used to make tea.
Food Uses: The Haida, Nisgaa, Gitksan and some other peoples ate the central pith of the fireweed stems in the early spring. Used as a green potherb by French Canadian explorers. Flowers produce ample nectar, which can be used to make honey.
Ecological Importance: Often the first plant to appear in burned areas, playing an important role in the re-colonization of those areas.

Name Info: Commonly grows on sites of fires, hence the common name.
Interesting Facts: National flower of Russia.



Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.