fireweed

(Chamerion angustifolium ssp. angustifolium)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

fireweed (ssp. angustifolium)

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

Nativity

Native

     
Occurrence

Common in Minnesota

     
Habitat

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

Flowering

July to September

     
Flower Color

Pink or magenta

     
Height

8 to 52

     
 
Identification

This is a, 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.

 
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.

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 3, 4, 7.

 
Comments

Taxonomy
Until recently this species was classified in the genus Epilobium. A recent study showed that, based on morphological features, it should be placed in a separate genus.

 
Taxonomy

Family:

Onagraceae (evening primrose)

 

Subfamily:

Onagroideae

 

Tribe:

Epilobieae

 
Parent

fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)

 
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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