SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

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Photo By Jodi Muzzana


July 19, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Those big showy rose-purple spires of flowers standing taller than Shaquille O'Neal along the Ketchikan highway and in open areas are called Fireweed - also known as Rosebay Willowherb. It is said to have been given its name from the fact that it is one of the first plants to grow after a forest fire.

jpg Fireweed

Fireweed photographed in the Mountain Point area Monday.
Photo By Jodi Muzzana ©2006

In Alaska, candies, syrups, jellies, and even ice cream are made from fireweed. One of the greatest benefits of this flower is the excellent honey that is created when bees find dense stands of the plant and use the abundant nectar. Honey made primarily from fireweed nectar is particularly light and mild tasting.

Fireweed occurs throughout the United States except in the southeastern states and Texas. It also occurs throughout Eurasia and is the national flower of Russia. Fireweed can be found in great abundance in Alaska during the summer months.

Fireweed is said to be most common in disturbed areas such as burned forests and swamps, avalanche areas, riverbars, and highway rights-of-way. It grows well in coniferous forests, mixed forest, meadows, thickets, and grasslands.

When the fireweed turns to cotton (seeds), some Alaskans say there are about six weeks until winter begins - of course that would depend on what part of Alaska you live in.



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Ketchikan, Alaska