Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated April 2019.

Scientific name: Chamerion angustifolium (L.) Holub; old Epilobium angustifolium L.

Common name(s): fireweed, narrow-leaved fireweed, willow herb, great willow-herb, rosebay willowherb

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile , NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)




-generally flowers late spring through August in ME

-reddish stems

-deep pink or rose colored flowers

  • four spreading sepals

-may be confused with E. hirsutum or Lythrum salicaria; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage


-widespread in northern climates

-disturbed areas

-burned or logged forests


-moist areas

  • not waterlogged
  • lakes and bog

-known to be a natural colonizer of oil spill sites, acidic coal spills and mine waste


-disperses by wind

-extensive root system

-wildlife foraging species

-produces nectar

-attracts pollinators

-can be a problem in perennial crops

Natural History:

-named after being found in burned areas

-can boil or steam the stems to eat

-can have a laxative effect

-used as an external medicine against eczema



Hansen, R.W., S.B. Hansen and E.A. Osgood. 1991. Reproductive phenologies of selected flowering plants in eastern Maine forests. ME Agric. Exp. Station Tech. Bull. 143. 17 pp.

Heinrich, B. 1976. Flowering phenologies: Bog, woodland, and disturbed habitats. Ecology. 57(5):890-899.

USDA. “FIREWEED Chamerion Angustifolium Holub.” Natural REsource Conservation Service- Plant Guide, United States Department of Agriculture, 2016,