rosebay willowherb
rosebay willowherb
Known as 'Fireweed' in the United States as it is often the first plant to grow following the ravages of fire, rosebay willowherb - Chamerion angustifolium is a perennial herbaceous plant native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere.

Although rarely heard now, it was also known as bomb weed due to its rapid colonization of bomb craters during the second world war.

Rosebay willowherb
Botanical illustration of rosebay willowherb
Once considered a British  rarity, rosebay willowherb was originally confined to just a few locations with damp, gravelly soils. Today it is a common sight in many British gardens due to the expansion of the railway network, and the associated soil disturbance. However it is usually considered to be little more than an invasive weed.

Growing to approximately 2 metres tall, it has a strongly spreading habit due to its creeping underground stems and can easily produce clumps of around 1.5 metres. The leaves are uniquely unusual and easily identified during all stages of its lifecycle. This is because the leaf veins do not terminate on the edges of the leaf like other genera, instead they form circular loops which join together inside the outer leaf margins.

Flowering from July to September, the 4-petalled 2 cm wide pink blooms appear in terminal racemes, followed by reddish-brown linear seed capsules. The seeds have silky hairs which aids wind dispersal.

Ornamental form of rosebay willowherb can be grow in most moist but well-drained, humus-rich soils in full sun or partial shade.

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