Fireweed

Trip Start May 05, 2009
1
41
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Trip End Sep 20, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Friday, September 4, 2009

Fireweed

The state flower of Alaska is the Forget-me-not. I have been in Alaska for two summers now, and I have traveled from Barrow to Homer without seeing any Forget-me-nots. Fireweed on the other hand is prolific everywhere. Well, not in Barrow…but pretty much everywhere else around the state. So I think that Fireweed should be the state flower – or perhaps the state weed. The Fireweed was especially pretty this year. We saw huge patches of it along the roadside and on the sides of mountains.

In the spring of the year you might wonder why this plant is called Fireweed. Both varieties, the Tall Fireweed and the Dwarf Fireweed (also called River Beauty), have beautiful pink blossoms that look nothing like fire. However, when the colors turn in the fall the leaves of the plant turn bright red, and the leaves pointed upward in abundance from the base of the plant look very much like tongues of fire.

When the plants go to seed the long narrow capsule which formerly produced a flower at the end opens and releases a fine fluffy substance with tiny seeds inside. This fluff is carried by the wind thus abundant fireweed for future generations.

Last year we collected blossoms and made jelly. It's pretty good, but questionable if it is worth the work. You need something like 200 blossoms. You can also make Fireweed honey. (Haven’t tried that.) My wildflower book also says that in the spring the new spring shoots are edible. (Haven’t tried that either.)

Your horticultural beagle,

Remington
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