| Anecdotal Experience |
I first learned about fireweed about 3 years ago from another herbalist who lives in a place where it grows abundantly at a high elevation. Since then I have found it growing in my own region of Northern California and have been in love with this plant since. I love taking my trek to higher elevations in August to collect her beautiful blooms.
Imagine my surprise when after first learning about Fireweed I randomly (or not so randomly) find her growing at one of my Northern California Nature Haunts. That’s the generic name I give the places I frequent in my region. I feel that plants have a way of showing up when they are needed or even when they are desired. Nature always has her magical ways of showing up for us.
This year I decided I want to grow her in my garden. So I will gather some seed from the wild this summer and hopefully have a nice stand to harvest from next year.
I love going to visit her in the wild and I always will, but I am the type of Herbalist that if I can grow a plant in my garden then I will so that I am putting the least amount of strain on wild populations of plants. As herbalism has gone through a rebirth of its own in the last few decades and more and more people are buying herbal products, over harvesting from the wild has unfortunately become a problem for many species of plants. Nature deserves our respect and care at all times.
I just dreamt of Fireweed as I have been curating this blog post. I dreamt she was going to seed and I was excited to be gathering these precious wild seeds to grow in my garden.
I think Nature is calling….
Fireweed by Anne Holmes, Illustrator
| The Science + Medicine |
Latin Binomial | Chamaenerion angustifolium, formerly known as Epilobium angustifolium (willowherb)
Onagraceae family | Evening Primrose
Other common names it is known as | great willowherb, rosebay willowherb, bombweed
Perennial herb | Reproduces by seed and underground runners\rhizomes
Bloom color | Pinkish purplish
Bloom time | June, July, August, September
Grows many places including | CA, OR, OH, NV, NC, WV, Canada, British Colombia, Russia – Northern Hemisphere
Habitat | Loves disturbed soil in cool areas, from the lowlands well into the subalpine mountains. Fireweed is one of the first plants to grow after a fire, fixing the soil and nutrients allowing for a strong and diverse plant family to regrow. This is referred to as a ‘pioneer species’ or colonizer species. She likes potash (plant ashes that contain an alkaline potassium compound), which makes sense since she thrives after fires. Fireweed was one of the first plants to appear after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.
Wildlife | attracts bees, moths and hummingbirds. It is a larval host for the white lined sphinx moth. It is food for bears, moose, elk, and deer
Food | the spring shoots are a good source of Vitamin C, flavonoids and beta-carotene. Helpful for balancing the gut and making sure what needs absorbed is and what needs to go goes.
Honey | rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial making it not only a great food but also superb for wound care. Let me know what your experience is with this honey in the comments or email me!
Medicine | Flowers and leaves are anti-inflammatory, astringent (tannins), mild laxative, antifungal (for candida), normalizes the gut flora (drink as a tea). High in mucilage; emollient (most concentrated in the spring shoots) so is helpful with sore throats. It is antispasmodic so can be helpful in asthma, coughs and intestinal spasms. The roots are used for BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and male urinary problems. Antiseptic, anti-tumor (antiproliferative), antioxidant, antimicrobial.
Contains ellagitannins (hydrolysable tannins) which act as prebiotics in the gut.
Energetics | cooling and drying
There are many ways to use and enjoy Fireweed. She can be made into fermented tea (Ivan Chai), a flower essence, tincture and infused into oil for beauty products. Even the bees make honey from gathering pollen at this most ethereal bloom. Her young shoots can be eaten as a nourishing spring food.
Fireweed has a rich history of use in northern countries where it loves to grow, like Russia. Before modern day medicine Ivan Chai was very much sought after as a health tonic tea. This fermented tea regals from Russia where Ivan is a traditional name and Chai means tea, hence the name Ivan Chai that was given to this tea probably by its European drinkers.
Drinking fermented fireweed tea has been shown to have the following benefits:
+ Normalizes blood pressure
+ Balances digestive health
+ Improves energy levels
+ Promotes relaxation
+ Builds immunity
+ Strengthens circulation
+ Supports the kidney and urinary system
+ Detoxifies the body
+ Relieves migraines and tension
+ Prevents cavities
Ivan Chai is like black tea but with its own flavors and textures. A drink one may find much pleasure in consuming, and I encourage you to. Packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and gut prebiotics.
| Fireweed + Moon Wise Herbals |
At Moon Wise Herbals I curate a signature product called Fireweed + Raspberry Serum. It is a potent facial serum curated to reduce inflammation and redness, vitalize skin and nourish it with potent Raspberry seed oil, Roses and Frankincense. This product is made in very small batches and when it is gone it is gone until the next summer\fall season (until I establish it in my garden that is).
A little of this organic and wild-crafted oil goes a long way and can be used on the face (including the eye area, always use caution not to get oil in your eyes), neck and décolleté.
Use for: damaged skin, sunburn, rosacea, and irritated skin, to vitalize skin, wrinkle prone areas of face, eyes and décolleté.
Since I was a young girl I loved using bath and body products. I loved all the smells and textures and as a teenager I fell for and loved all the promises of beautiful glowing skin. What I did not know back then was that most of those products if not all of them were made with mostly chemical ingredients. As I got older and researched more and more into bath and body care ingredients I learned that some of these chemicals are even quite bad for us.
Moon Wise Herbals works in a different way. With a deep connection with the land I live on, and Nature as a whole, I curate products that are wholesome and good for you with ingredients made by Nature. Nature has amazing plants and foods that are there for us to use for better health and wellness. My mission is to bring effective and intuitively curated botanical goods that create real results because Nature is real and she is ever taking good care of us if we would but let her and trust her.
| The Spirit of Fireweed |
The Flower essence helps move out old energy from your body, mind and spirit, allowing for fresh energy to come in and create a better foundation for growth and transformation. She dissolves emotional intensity from old memories, enhances your ability to navigate hard situations with courage and grace and strengthens your capacity to love and forgive yourself + others.
+ + +
Fireweed proves to be a nourishing, healing and transforming botanical. Drinking Ivan Chai provides one with ample Vitamin C and other antioxidants and benefits your gut health. Taking her flower essence can help you to move through trauma and hard emotions by moving energy out of the body that one no longer needs so that fresh energy can take its place, readying a fertile ground for lasting personal transformation.
Truly she has transformed me with her magick. Interacting with Fireweed, I feel like a child, carefree and happy and excited to be around her, working with her and offering her to others. Plants indeed are like good friends, always there, bringing a smile to our faces and a calm to our hearts.
Happy August! Until we meet again, may your magick be bountiful and your life full of botanical blessings.
Keep in touch! | firstname.lastname@example.org
All photos by me unless otherwise noted.