ROSEBAY WILLOWHERB

FIREWEED, ROSEBAY, BLOOMING SALLY, BOMBWEED (London)

Chamerion angustifolium

synonyms: Epilobium angustifolium & Chamaenerion angustifolium
Willowherb Family [Onagraceae]  

Flowers:
month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept

Pappus: pappusZpossible (white, long, simple, within a 4-sided pod)
pappus8aug pappus8sep pappus8sept pappus8oct

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8purple
inner
inner8white
morph
morph8actino
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round

27th July 2004, Marsden. Photo: © RWD
Prefers to grow in bomb-sites.


Moses Gate Country Pk, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Spreads uncontrollably, but is decreasing in the UK.


21st Aug 2004, River Kent, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Looking a little fiery (as in 'Fireweed'). Flowers going to seed.


22nd July 2008, Rochdale Canal, Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Rosebay Willowherb is shorter than the adjacent Great Willowherb.


24th April 2006, Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Stalybridge. Photo: © RWD


2nd Aug 2005, Bridgewater Canal, Parbold. Photo: © RWD


22nd June 2007, waters edge. Photo: © RWD


2nd Aug 2005, Bridgewater Canal, Parbold. Photo: © RWD


22nd June 2007, waters edge. Photo: © RWD


22nd June 2007, waters edge. Photo: © RWD


4th Sept 2007, Glossop, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The long seed pods zip open from the top like a banana in a 4-way split to reveal the feathered seeds.


4th Sept 2007, Glossop, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The feathered seeds unfurl from the long pods ready to be taken by the wind.


22nd June 2007, waters edge. Photo: © RWD
The long lanceolate leaves have a prominent white rib down the centre.


13th Sept 2003, Entwistle, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves can turn a scarlet red in Autumn as the plant tries to recover the chlorophyll from them before they fall off.


Hybridizes with : Nothing! Unlike most other members of the Willowherb family which happily cross-breed with one another, Rosebay Willowherb is the black sheep of the family, it hybridizes with not a single one of them. This may also explain its scientific name, which does not start with Epilobium like all the other willowherbs, but with Chamerion instead, almost as if it wasn't really part of the same family. Clearly, there are great physical similarities, but also great genetic differences.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics : there is no other flower quite like this one.

From a distance a rift of Rosebay could be confused with one of Purple Loosestrife.

A single plant produces up to 20,000 parachuted seeds ready to take flight in the wind to land and germinate miles from its parent. Rosebay Willowherb took a hold of Britain just after WWII when it invaded waste ground, usually ground that was bombed flat in German air-raids. In London it was known as 'Bombweed'. Its propensity to colonise land that has burnt gave rise to another nick-name, 'Fireweed', especially when great swathes are in flower or when leaves are in autumn colours and it begins to resemble a grass-fire. From the 1950's onwards it spread rapidly, borne on the wind. It readily travels up railway lines, the seeds wafted further along by the eddies from passing trains.

Each plant produces about 20,000 seeds.

All Willowherbs apart from Rosebay Willowherb have four petals, which has five.


  Chamerion angustifolium  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Onagraceae  

Distribution
family8Willowherb family8Onangraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Chamerion
Chamerion
(Rosebay Willowherb))

ROSEBAY WILLOWHERB

FIREWEED, ROSEBAY, BLOOMING SALLY, BOMBWEED (London)

Chamerion augustifolium

synonyms: Epilobium augustifolium & Chamaenerion angustifolium
Willowherb Family [Onagraceae]  

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