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Alaskan Fireweed

Hi!  Anchorage broke a record a few weeks ago for raining 31 days in a row for a summer.  It’s been cold and gray skies.  Reminds me of living in Seattle!  But the few days of sun have been wonderful and reminds me why I’m sooooo in love with Alaska!

Several weeks ago Jake and I went to Homer.  The ride from Anchorage to Homer is breath taking with the huge snow capped mountains coming straight out of the ocean……….and FIREWEED!.  In July/August the fireweed blooms and it’s the most beautiful pink sight you’ve ever seen!  I took this photo in Homer behind a bookstore.

Fireweed in Homer

Fireweed from my camera

There is a story about fireweed that Alaskans love to tell.

Fireweed is a well known wildflower (OK, a weed) in Alaska.  In summer you’ll see fireweed all over Alaska, like a velvety blanket of bright pink.  It is one of the first plants to come alive after a forest or brush fire.  Isn’t that amazing?  It multiplies very quickly (that’s probably why they call it a weed and not a flower).  Fireweed looks like large tall green stalks with bright dark pink magenta color flowers.  The rich pink flowers are one reason how fireweed got its name.  Usually in July, you will see them bloom starting in the middle of the stalk.  The flowers continue to bloom one above the other ones until the pretty pink flowers reach the top of the stalk.  They are truly gorgeous! I personally think they should be Alaska’s state flower!

In August, the flowers on the lower part of the stalk start falling off and they turn to seed, a fluffy like cotton.  Very awesome!  The wind carries the cotton off to reseed for the next year and this is when Alaskans say………… "there are about six weeks until winter begins!"

In September, the flowers are gone and the stalks slowly change color from green to red with bright red-orange leaves and this is when Alaskans say………."summer is at an end and Fall is upon us". Now, all you see is this beautiful bright red ground, miles and miles of red!  This is the second reason how fireweed got its name.

They say the inside of the fireweed stem is nutritious and is used to make jelly, syrup, ice cream, ointments, soaps, lotions, honey, and the early leaves are used in salads.  I bet you didn’t know that!

Did you also know you can buy fireweed seed in Wal-Mart, Fred Meyers, and Safeway?  Many who come to visit and want to take home a little “Alaska”, will take it home and grow their own fireweed!

I LOVE fireweed! And I don’t care if it is a weed.  It’s beautiful and I look forward to it every summer!


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