But its mauve beauty makes it too lovely for the weed label, don’t you think? Here in the Yukon, we treasure our fireweed, giving it honor as our official territorial flower. If you were to drive up the Alaska Highway during July—and you are invited—you’d be welcomed by roadsides pink with masses of these tall flowers.
In both the photo above, taken in Kluane National Park, and the woodland one on the left, only the blossoms along the bottom of the fireweed’s stalk are blooming. That’s because the blooms on this flower start at the bottom and move upward toward the top as summer progresses. Yukoners say that when the blossoms reach the top of the fireweed, summer is over, and that’s about right.
I’ve been told that honey made mostly from the nectar of fireweed is especially delicious, but I’ve never tried it, so I can’t vouch for it. Some people pick the very young shoots and leaves of the fireweed to use as salad greens or a cooked vegetable. I haven’t tried that, either. I have tried fireweed tea, which is made from the dried leaves, and found it much too bitter for me. So I’ll skip the harvesting altogether and continue to enjoy this year’s fireweed for it’s delicate pink beauty.
Previous wildflower posts:
Photos by Andrew Stark. Click for larger views.