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Water en land

Mens en Milieu



30 to 150 centimeters


flowers: pink to purple-red


July through September


bees and butterflies


underground roots, seeds (dispersed by wind)

life span:



all cold and temperate parts of the northern hemisphere

  • Dut: Wilgenroosje, (knikkend)
  • Lat: Chamerion angustifolium
  • Eng: Fireweed, rosebay willow-herb
  • Ger: Wald-Weidenröschen
  • Fren: Epilobe en epi
Rosebay willow-herb, foto fitis, sytske dijksen


Fireweed is one of the first plants to colonize a burnt site, which is how it got its name. Buried seeds stay viable for years, so that should fire or other disturbances take place, it can quickly re-colonize the area. Beside seeds, fireweed spreads with underground roots. These roots have been dated up to 25 years old! They even show year rings.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Fireweed, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Fireweed is a fairly common plant throughout the Netherlands. It grows on sandy ground and damp humus-rich soil. It is found in the dunes, on open areas in the forest, on fallow terrains, along train embankments and on the banks of ditches and canals. Gull colonies in the dunes are also suitable areas. The wind blows the silky haired seeds great distances.

    All kinds of cud-chewers like to eat fireweed. Do they realize that it is rich in nutrients, such as sodium? The plant also has lots of uses for humans, ranging from food to medicine.