Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Fireweed or American Burnweed: Erechtites hieracifolia

fireweed4-6b.jpg (116670 bytes) Weed Description:  An erect summer annual with alternate, lanceolate leaves that have toothed margins.  Fireweed is primarily a weed of pastures, abandoned fields, and some agronomic crops.
Leaves:  Alternate, elliptic to lanceolate in outline, approximately 2 to 8 inches long, 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches wide.   Leaves have a sharp-pointed apex (acute) and margins that are irregularly toothed.

Stems:  Erect, solid, usually without hairs but occasionally slightly hairy.  Stems may range from 1 1/3 to 10 feet in height.

fireweed8-6.jpg (124577 bytes)
firewd5.jpg (51216 bytes) Flowers: Flowers occur in panicles at the ends of stems.  Individual flower heads are 3 to 10 mm wide, and cream to pinkish in color.

Fruit:  A nutlet that contains many white pappus' that disperse the seed.

Identifying Characteristics:   Erect plants with alternate, lanceolate leaves that have toothed margins.   When mature, the feathery white seedheads are also key features of these plants. fireweed9-24.jpg (90063 bytes)