fireweed

(Chamerion angustifolium ssp. angustifolium)

Conservation Status
fireweed (ssp. angustifolium)
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

     
  Midwest

FAC - Facultative

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Fireweed (ssp. angustifolium) is an erect, perennial, 8 to 52 tall forb that rises usually on a single aerial stem from a rhizome-like underground stem and fibrous roots. It often forms large colonies.

The stems are erect, usually unbranched, and round or somewhat angular in cross section. They are leafy; hairless or nearly hairless below the inflorescence; and green, sometimes becoming reddish near the top in strong sunlight.

The leaves are alternate, numerous, and crowded. They are stalkless or nearly stalkless, narrowly lance-shaped or linear lance-shaped, 2¾ to 5½ long, and ¼ to ½ wide. The leaf blades are broadly angled or almost rounded at the base and taper to a point at the tip. The upper and lower surfaces are hairless, even on the midvein. There is a prominent midvein and 10 to 25 lateral veins that run into a single submarginal vein. The submarginal vein is distinct but the lateral veins often are not. The margins are untoothed or obscurely untoothed.

The inflorescence is a 3 to 8 long, unbranched cluster (raceme) of up to 15 or more stalked flowers at the end of the stem. The flowers nod at the end of a long, magenta-colored stalk when in bud. They are spreading to almost erect when in bloom.

Each flower is ¾ to 1½ in diameter. There are 4 sepals, 4 petals, 8 stamens and 1 style. The sepals are spreading, narrowly lance-shaped, ¼ to long, and similar in color but darker than the petals. The petals are pink to magenta, rarely white. They are to long and to wide. They are narrowed at the base and broad near the tip. The stamens have long white filaments and dark magenta anthers. The style has a 4-lobed stigma.

The fruit is a straight, cylinder-shaped, 1½ to 3 long capsule with many seeds.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

8 to 52

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Pink or magenta

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium ssp. circumvagum) is often taller, up to 78. The stems are minutely hairy, at least near the top. The leaves are larger and are usually hairy on the midvein below. They are on short but distinct stalks. The leaf blades are wedge-shaped at the base and usually blunt at the tip. The lateral veins are distinct. The flower petals are much larger. It is uncommon in Minnesota.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Moist; roadside ditches, disturbed places, especially after a fire. Full or partial sun.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to September

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

3, 4, 7.

 
  3/14/2014      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common in Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  
  Order Myrtales (myrtles, evening primroses, and allies)  
 

Family

Onagraceae (evening primrose)  
  Subfamily Onagroideae  
  Tribe Epilobieae  
 

Genus

Chamerion (fireweed)  
  Species Chamerion angustifolium (fireweed)  
       
 

The correct genus for this species has been in contention since 1753, when Carl Linnaeus placed it in the genus Epilobium. It had previously been placed in the genus Chamaenerion, and some authors continued to use that genus. Based on a monograph published in 2007, Chamaenerion was separated from Epilobium under the new shortened name Chamerion. Some sources, including Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), continue to use the original spelling Chamaenerion.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Chamaenerion angustifolium

Chamerion angustifolium var. angustifolium

Chamerion spicatum

Epilobium angustifolium

Epilobium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium

Epilobium angustifolium var. intermedium

Epilobium spicatum

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

fireweed

French-willow

great willow-herb (Canada)

great willowherb (Canada)

rosebay willowherb (Europe)

willowherb

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

Linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

Raceme

An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

 

 

       
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Inflorescence

  fireweed (ssp. angustifolium)   fireweed (ssp. angustifolium)
       

Flower

  fireweed (ssp. angustifolium)   fireweed (ssp. angustifolium)
       
       

 

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