Epilobium angustifolium syn. Chamerion angustifolium, Chamaenerion angustifolium, Other names: Blooming Sally, Fireweed, Great Willow Herb
A perennial that spreads by seed and creeping with fleshy white rhizomes. When it is in flower in large clumps it makes a striking feature (this gives rise to name Fireweed when a large stand is viewed from afar). The following fluffy seedheads make another show.
Introduced from North America in the 18th and 19th centuries as a garden plant, its invasive behaviour has allowed it to become naturalised. The young leaves have been used by indigenous North American tribes fresh in a salad or as a cooked vegetable. Young shoots can be prepared like asparagus and the pith of the stems is used to thicken soups and stews. The leaves make a tobacco substitute and a poultice will draw out infections. Recent studies have shown it to be anti-inflammatory with uses for nappy rash, sunburn and as a mouthwash. The pollen is claimed to produce good quality honey.
The pointed, lanceolate, hairless leaves are arranged alternately on the smooth stem; they turn red and yellow in autumn before the whole topgrowth dies back. From June to August violet or rose-purple flowers open gradually from the base of the racemes and the four petals are slightly notched. The long slender friut capsule matures to split lengthwise with four reflexed valves containing small seeds covered with white silky hairs that are carried away on the slightest breeze
Height - up to 120 cm.
Rosebay Willowherb is the main food-plant of the Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar.
Rosebay willowherb is an erect, rhizomatous, perennial, native on waste ground, embankments, rocky places, mountain scree and open woodland throughout the UK. It is recorded up to 1,850 ft in Britain. Formerly uncommon it became abundant in bombsites, burned areas and forest clearings. On the Isle of Wight, it suddenly appeared in abundance on an area of woodland destroyed by fire in 1909. Rosebay willowherb is favoured by conditions after woodland clearance and in the early stages of coppicing but growth and flowering become restricted as the tree canopy develops again. In reclaimed bogs in Ireland it is an important early colonizer but disappears as the vegetation matures. In Scotland, rosebay willowherb was a frequent colonist in unsown set-aside land and roadside verges but was less common where a cover crop had been sown. Rosebay willowherb can be a problem weed in perennial crops.
Rosebay willowherb is tolerant of acid and alkaline soils but does not grow in soils with poor mineral nutrition. It is usually absent from waterlogged soil but grows in wet conditions around ponds as well as on dry sandy heaths and chalk downs. Rosebay willowherb tolerates shade and a broad range of climatic conditions.
It is suspected by some botanists that the sudden spread of rosebay willowherb was due to the introduction of the North American form that has 72 chromosomes while the native form has 36. Considerable intraspecific variation has been observed in rosebay willowherb in North America where it is eaten by deer and range cattle. It was also used as a food plant by the native indians. The nectar is important for hive bees in certain localities.
Glyphosate or Grazon 90, systemic action, taken down into underground parts. This plant will reduce year on year with cultural cutting also. For best results herbicide application is best in september and preferably after it has seeded. back to top