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Rosebay Willowherb: the fire weed

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Rosebay Willowherb: the fire weed

The tall purple spikes of rosebay willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium) can be seen in full flower in July and August, They always grow in large clusters of plants and make a magnificent sight together but one rarely looks at a single flower of the spike, what a beautiful specimen it is?

Rosebay is also known as fireweed as it readily colonises areas where fires have occurred. Although it is fifty years since we last had regular steam trains the legacy of rosebay willowherb can still be seen along the railway tracks of today. Sparks starting small fires were common place in the days of steam so small burnt areas along the lines were quite common. This is where rosebay found its feet. Once the flowers turned to seed they would be swept along the line in the slip stream of passing trains and would soon take hold on another burnt patch and so the plant spread along the entire rail network.

It has, of course, established elsewhere along roadsides and on waste ground but the railway network, and especially disused railway lines, are a great place to find this striking plant.


 

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This nature note was written by ----> Peter Orchard
This nature nore was written ----> 2 years 11 months ago

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