July 17, 2012 The Alaskan Fireweed
Some people up here think that the state flower should be Epilobium angustifolium, commonly known as Fireweed. The Fireweed is a perennial flower that belongs to the willowherb family. They are native throughout temporal North America, as well as Northern Canada and Britian.
The Fireweed gets its name because it is found, among other places, growing very well in areas after a fire has cleared away the vegetation. This is what we call a pioneer species because it is very quick to colonize clear areas where competition is low. It will continue to grow and spread until the plants around it grow too tall and crowd them out of space and sunlight. The seeds of the Fireweed however will lie viable in the ground until after the next fire clears away the areas. At that time, the seeds will germinate and begin the process of populating the areas again. You can find them in clearing along roadways all around Alaska and their pretty pink flowers really stand out in the sun.
Native Americans use the plants as food, as a good source of vitamin C and as a medicine for cuts and boils. Some groups even add it to their dog food. The Fireweed is used to make candies, syrups, jellies and even ice cream in Alaska. Monofloral Honey is made from the nectar of the plant. You can even gain some information about the weather from this plant. The blossoms begin to open from the bottom of the stalk and work their way up as the summer continues. Many people believe that the flower can indicate the length of summer so that when the last blooms open on the top of the stalks, summer is over. They are beautiful flowers and they are found all through the state along roads and fields. Its no wonder many people feel this should be the state flower of Alaska.