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CHAMERION angustifolium 'Album'

Image of Chamerion angustifolium 'Album'

Jesse Saylor

Family

Onagraceae

Botanical Name

CHAMERION angustifolium 'Album'

Plant Common Name

Fireweed, White Fireweed

General Description

White flowers don this vigorous fireweed cultivar from summer to fall. Commonly known as fireweed in North America, this pretty wildflower bears tall spikes of white flowers. Chamerion angustifolium is native across much of the northerly regions of the northern hemisphere where it thrives in moist ditches, old fields, open woods and along forest and stream edges. It is commonly called "fireweed" because this true pioneer species responds well to fire and is one of the first plants to seed in and produce new shoots after a fire. It spreads by both seed and wide-spreading rhizomes and is so cold hardy it even grows well in Greenland. Until very recently it had the botanical name, Epilobium angustifolium, which was changed to Chamerion angustifolium; many references still refer to it by its old name.

Stems of alternate, willowy leaves appear in spring rising from broad, spreading clumps. The rhizomes extend down vertically up to 1.5 feet (0.5 meters), so they are difficult to dig up once established. Tall flower stems appear as early as early summer and can continue into early fall, depending on the regional climate. They can reach 3 to 9 feet (1 to 2.7 meters) and are lined with nodding buds that open to show white flowers subtended by pinkish sepals. Following pollination by insects and hummingbirds, elongated capsules are produced that open to show many seeds, each with a tuft of long hairs at the end. Each capsule can contain 300 to 500 wind-carried seeds that readily self-sow.

This is a true wildflower that is best grown in natural areas rather than garden spaces where it's sure to take over. It grows best in full to partial sun and moist, organic-rich soil. It is pH adaptable and can withstand many harsh growing conditions. Cut plants back in fall to reduce seed output, if desired.

In circumboreal regions, fireweed is an important forage plant for animals large and small; elk, bighorn sheep, and white and black-tailed deer feed on its leaves and chipmunks eat the seeds. Hummingbirds are one of many pollinating species and butterflies and many bee species also feed on the nectar and pollen of the flowers.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-9' / 0.9m - 2.7m

  • Width

    2'-5' / 0.6m - 1.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Canada, Northern Europe, Russia/Siberia, Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Thicket/Colonizing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Pink

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bog Garden, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes