Chamaenerion angustifolium (Fireweed)
|Also known as:||Rosebay, Great Willowherb|
|Family:||Onagraceae (Evening Primrose)|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist soil, woodland edges and clearings, along shores|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||3 to 7 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A spike-like cluster at the top of the stem and the ends of branching stems in the upper part of the plant. Flowers are about 1 inch across with 4 paddle-shaped pink to purplish petals alternating with 4 narrow darker sepals that are shorter than the petals, 8 long white stamens with purple to brownish tips, and a white style, longer than the stamens, divided and curled at the tip. Behind the flower is a long slender purplish ovary that resembles the short flower stalk. A cluster blooms from the bottom up, the buds typically angled downward, flowers facing outward, and ripening fruit angled up to nearly erect.
Leaves and stem:
Fireweed was formerly known as Epilobium angustifolium or Chamerion angustifolium, and is now Chamaenerion angustifolium. It has often been confused with the invasive Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), which has opposite leaves and narrower, more cylindric flower clusters with 6-petaled flowers. There are 2 recognized subspecies of C. angustifolium: subsp. angustifolium is present in Canada and possibly Minnesota; subsp. circumvagum (formerly var. canescens) is the common species, generally a larger plant than subsp. angustifolium and more hairy, its leaves have distinct venation and a short stalk.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Itasca State Park and in Aitkin and Lake counties. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Cass and Itasca counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?