Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Controversial Weed

Epilobium angustifolium or fireweed was abundant in Alaska. ( Known as rosebay willowherb in Britain as it grows circumboreal in range.)  This is a controversial flower.  How can that be?  Well, read on. 

This photo, a bit blurred, yet does show an egg mass of some insect near the top.

I heard several Alaskans say the did not like the flower.  It starts to bloom from the bottom and works it's way to the top.  When it begins bloom the traditional saying is that this is the beginning of summer and when the blossoms open at the top, then that means summer is over.  It is a ticking seasonal clock for some, it seems.

This perennial is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A if the early spring shoots are harvested.  Slender leaves and buds can also be used in salads.  If the leaves and blossoms are older they are tough and bitter.  The full blossoms are four-lobed trumpet in shape.  The herb is antispasmodic, hypnotic, and can be used as a laxative and tonic.  It also causes tissues to contract.  It claims many other medicinal uses.

It grows at the edges of the woods and in places where disturbed soil is located.  It is cultivated for reclamation of landscapes that have been eroded.  It grew everywhere on the hikes and drives that we took.  I am sure my Canadian bloggers know it well.

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