The international bee crisis is threatening our global food supply, but this user-friendly field guide shows what you can do to help protect our pollinators. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation offers browsable profiles of 100 common flowers, herbs, shrubs, and trees that support bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. The recommendations are simple: pick the right plants for pollinators, protect them from pesticides, and provide abundant blooms throughout the growing season by mixing perennials with herbs and annuals! 100 Plants to Feed the Bees (Storey Publishing) will empower homeowners, landscapers, apartment dwellers — anyone with a scrap of yard or a window box — to protect our pollinators.
The following excerpt on fireweed comes from section 1. Native Flowers.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)
A plant of cool climates and high altitudes, fireweed thrives in moist areas where fires have eliminated woody plants. Its seeds can remain viable in the soil for long periods, then rapidly germinate when forest clearings occur, such as after a fire — hence its common name. In such areas fireweed can suddenly appear in tremendous abundance but then quickly fade in subsequent years as the forest grows back, or as unfavorable weather patterns (such as drought) reduce flowering. Fireweed offers a long show, typically from June through August, with new blossoms opening on flower spikes to replace old blooms over many weeks.
Fireweed is not commonly available from seed, since the seed is tiny and attached to silky filaments, making planting a challenge. It grows easily from root or rhizome cuttings and will rapidly expand in large colonies as long as space and soil conditions are favorable. In the Pacific Northwest where fireweed reaches its optimal height, it’s an ideal hedgerow plant, mixing well with small shrubs such as Nootka rose. Fireweed is considered one of the most prolific honey plants in the Northern Hemisphere, with honey yields from 50 to 125 pounds per colony. The honey is light in color, sometimes described as “lightly spicy” or “buttery,” and highly valued as a premium single-source honey. The average sugar concentration in the nectar of fireweed has been reported at 35%.
Recommended species or varieties
The common wild type is pink; white-flowered cultivars are available from specialty nurseries.
Notable flower visitors
Attracts honeybees, bumblebees, hummingbirds, and various solitary wild bees. Host plant for caterpillars of the bedstraw (Hyles gallii) and white-lined sphinx moths (H. lineata).
Wildflower meadow/prairie restoration
Pollinator nesting material or caterpillar host plant
Sun to part shade
Excerpted from 100 Plants To Feed The Bees © by The Xerces Society. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.