Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A few shots of fireweed, or Epilobium angustifolium, at Mount Rainier:

I had never seen this plant before and I prepared myself to feel guilty for enjoying it so much; I felt that anything this prevalent and beautiful had to be some terrible invasive species. But it turns out that fireweed is native, so no guilt necessary.

It is, however, a colonial plant and grows in practically any sunny location. It hasn't earned its name because it spreads like fire (which was my original assumption) but instead because it is particularly successful at colonizing recently-burned areas.

Fireweed has a long history of medicinal use by Native Americans. The shoots can be used for salves and are good sources of vitamin A & C. Reportedly, the younger shoots are less bitter than the more mature plants.

As you can see from the photos, I was beset by rain all day. At least it made for fun photography. I'll post some other wildflower photos, all decorated with dewy drops of rain, soon enough. But this species was my favorite find.

I was in Washington for an obviously-beautiful outdoor wedding; one of my first small-talk questions to another attendee was, "What is that awesome flower?" The person I was speaking to told me it was fireweed; he added, "When that stops blooming, it's time for snow."

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