Bright, long-lasting flowers! Easy to care for! Herbal tea! What's not to love?
Fireweed is a common plant all across the Northern hemisphere. It loves disturbance, and often is one of the first plants to pop up after a fire or logging. It slowly spreads by rhizomes, and can create large colonies over time. This behavior makes it a great competitor against weeds!
It starts to bloom in the summer, and has some of the longest lasting blooms we know- it will continue blooming through autumn until the first frosts. Fireweed flowers are loved by many native bees, especially bumble bees (Bombus spp.).
Fireweed is used for many purposes by humans. Perhaps the most well-known use is "ivan chai", an herbal tea originally made in 13th-century Russia. In the Yukon, people use the flowers for jelly. People from many parts of the world eat young fireweed stalks, and use the plant medicinally. Honey made from fireweed is reportedly excellent.
Fireweed is sometimes given a bad rap as an aggressive plant, but we think this is an exaggeration - it takes a long time to spread, and it is very easy to trim any errant shoots in the garden. We think it looks best with a few shoots, so we like to let it spread just a bit, and then trim it if it spreads too far.
Photo credit: "Fireweed" by Stig Nygaard is licensed under CC BY 2.0.