The Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium) have matured and the flowers have have turned into long thin stalked brown seed pods that have splitting at the tip. The two half’s of the seed pod then curl backwards and releasing numerous small seeds that have long white hairs attached to catch the wind. When all the pods have opened the top of the plant looks like a fuzzy mess. A single fireweed can produce up to 80000 seeds. The fuzz was used by native peoples as fibre for weaving and for padding. For example, Salish people wove fireweed with the down of mountain goat wool for making blankets. The seed are also an excellent fire starter.
Another milestone! Post 122 out of 366 makes it one third of the way through my Project 366. Four months in and I think I can safely say that have the ropes figure out by now and that I am on the proverbial roll.
I went for a nature walk this morning to the Whitemud Creek. To mix things up a bit I accessed the trail system from a secluded and well-hidden trail head in the Ogilvie Ridge neighbourhood. This trail head takes you right into a portion of the Whitemud Ravine south of Snow Valley. According to the map it is about a 4 km walk to Snow Valley but I did not go that far today. It started out cloudy and breezy but the sun snuck out behind the clouds about one hour into the walk. The highlight of the walk was the “discovery” of a a pair of ponds off the trail that were busy with all manners of bird life such as Bohemian Waxwings, Eastern Pheoebes, House Finches, and a Downy Woodpecker (no waterfowl though). There was also evidence of recent beaver activity. These ponds do not appear on any map or even in Google Earth. I am sure the ponds are know to the locals, but they are not visible from the main trail and one has to meander through a brushy meadow to find them. As I was finding my way across the meadow I encountered stands of Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) a tall perennial herbaceous plant related to willows. The Fireweed is native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, including throughout the boreal forests of Canada. It is a pioneer species and is often one of the first colonizer after forest fires, hence the name Fireweed. It was known as bombweed during the Second World War as it was rapid to colonize bomb craters. Fireweed is one of the best known medicinal plants and has been used worldwide in traditional medicine. Experimental and clinical studies have confirmed that all parts of the plant have a broad range of pharmacological and therapeutic properties, including antioxidant, anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-aging properties. A recent review of the therapeutic potential of Fireweed provides an impressive list of benefits:
Traditional use of fireweed includes an infusion or tea, which has been reported as a treatment for migraine headaches, insomnia, anemia, delirium tremens, infections, and colds. E. angustifolium extracts have been reported to be effective treatments for gastric ulcer; duodenal ulcer; gastritis; colitis; various gastrointestinal disorders, such as dysentery and diarrhea; and prostate or urinary problems, such as urethral inflammation, micturition disorders, prostatic adenoma, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). E. angustifolium has also been used topically as a cleansing, soothing, antiseptic, and healing agent to treat minor burns, skin rashes, ulcers, and infections, and for treatment of inflammation of the ear, nose, and throat…
Although I am not suffering from any of the listed ailments at the present time, it am tempted to head back and collect some of the leaves while they are available to keep a stash of this miracle plant at home for future uses.