South Dakota Native Plant Research
Onagraceae : Chamerion angustifolium ssp. circumvagum

Onagraceae : Chamerion angustifolium ssp. circumvagum


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Common Name



Chamerion angustifolium ssp. circumvagum is a stout, erect perennial herb with simple to branched, red stems growing up to 3 m tall, that are smooth to occasionally having short, stiff hairs toward the top. This plant has an large root system, producing extensive colonies by forming shoots on lateral roots. The alternate leaves are lanceolate, with an acute tip, 2-20 cm long and 4-35 mm wide and arranged in a spiral. The leaves are sessile or nearly so, with a strong midvein and margins that are usually wavey. The inflorescence is a terminal many-flowered raceme. The slightly irregular flowers are drooping in the bud, the 4 spreading, green to purple sepals are lanceolate, 7-16 mm long and less than 3 mm wide. The 4 pink to magenta petals are obovate, tapering to a short claw, 10-20 mm long and 6-11 mm wide, usually with a notch. There are 8 slightly unequal stamens surrounding a pistil with a densely white haired ovary 8-18 mm long atop of a pedicel 4-12 mm long, with a white to purplish style, 10-20 mm long, with a ring of hairs at its base and topped by a 4-lobed stigma. The fruit is a capsule 4-10 cm long on a pedicel up to 2.5 cm long, containing may long-haired seeds. Fireweed blooms from June through September in open woodlands and disturbed areas, especially after fires in western South Dakota.

Synonyms: Epilobium angustifolium, Chamaenerion angustifolium

Additional Notes

Fireweed is a favorite plant in an open native plant garden. Its foliage adds texture, its flower are striking, and the bursting of the fruit provides a cascade of white seeds. Its flowers also attract native bumblebees and various solitary wild bees. Fireweed is easy to grow, but can be aggressive, spreading rapidly in favorable conditions.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Collect seeds in summer or fall, when pods mature and begin to split.

Germination: The seeds are dormant and require light to germinate. Press them into the soil in the fall or provide a 60-day moist cold treatment before spring planting.

Vegetative propagation: Shoots can be separated throughout most of the growing season.

Light: Full sun.

Soils: Adaptable to a wide range of well drained, nutrient rich soils.

Water: Moist to moderately dry conditions. Will not tolerate wet soils.

Notes: If shaded this plant will weaken and disappear.

Onagraceae : Chamerion angustifolium ssp. circumvagum