Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family)
General - a tall, erect perennial from rhizome-like roots; stems usually unbranched, growing 30 cm to 2 metres tall, even to 3 m.
Leaves - alternate; 5 - 15 cm long, narrowly lance-shaped, tapering at the base; margins entire or slightly toothed; densely crowded on the stem; paler colour and conspicuous veins beneath.
Flowers - in a long, dense, terminal spike; individual flowers large (about 2 cm across), showy, with 4 magenta (rarely white) petals; lowest flowers opening first; appearing in later stages of summer.
Fruit -long, up to 7 cm, narrow, green to purple pod opening to release numerous silky-haired seeds; ripening in late summer.
Occasional, solitary or scattered in forest habitats; especially in upland pine and spruce stands; often in abundance in cleared or burned areas.
Stems used for thread or fibre, young shoots as a nutritious vegetable (high in Vitamins A and C). Fireweed is an early colonizer of burned and disturbed areas. It was one of the first plants to appear in bomb sites during the London Blitz of World War II.
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