The fireweed also known as the rosebay willow herb in the British Isles, in Ireland fireweed is called Blooming Sally.
Thought to be introduced from China by the early Victorians, fireweed is one of the pioneer’s plants native to the Northern Hemisphere that thrives in acidic woods, meadows and areas that have been recently burned by forest fire.
It flowers from June to September and can have as many as 80,000 seeds on one mature plant and is propelled by the wind. In Great Britain, it is considered an invasive weed that is difficult to eradicate. The seeds germinate and grow best in a moist environment. Fireweed can reproduce by the shoots coming from roots, even if they have been dormant for many years. Plants can grow from one and a half feet tall to over eight feet in height.
Fireweed is attractive to birds, bees and butterflies.
Fireweed is the symbol of the Yukon and long has been known to the Native Americans of that area as a good source of spring greens along with other young plants like dandelion. The young greens provide a good source of vitamin C and pro vitamin A. The Dena’ina of southwest Alaska used it to feed their dogs.Fireweed is used in such Alaskan epicurean delights as ice cream, candies, syrup and jellies. Honey make from fireweed pollen has a spicy taste.
According to the nature 2 u website, “The roots and leaves have demulcent, tonic and astringent properties and are used in domestic medicine in decoction, infusion and cataplasm, as astringents. The root contains mucilage, tannin, starch, sugar, resin, and a crystalline calcium salt.”
Among other complaints fireweed is used for includes whooping cough, asthma and stomach diarrhea. The leaves are used in reducing ulcers of the skin and are also used in ailments of the prostrate gland.