Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fireweed at the edge of Emerald Lake

with 27 comments


On September 7th, Yoho National Park‘s Emerald Lake served as a pastel backdrop for these buds and flowers of fireweed, Chamaenerion angustifolium.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2018 at 4:48 AM

27 Responses

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  1. beautiful color


    January 23, 2018 at 4:52 AM

  2. What a lovely contrast of color… so peaceful for the eyes this morning.


    January 23, 2018 at 8:09 AM

    • We visited Emerald Lake during the great smoky haze of forest fires that burned for weeks in that part of the world. We’ll have to imagine the greater contrast in the image if I’d been able to make it in bright sunlight. Still, I do like the pastel version.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2018 at 9:01 AM

  3. Ooo. This is a new flower species for me I think. I went back to see what I missed and LO!! You had posted this beautiful flower with a plump, gorgeous caterpillar. That’s more my style. 🙂

    Great hue of the sky background, grayish-blue with hushed lavender which is a great complement to the pink. In-camera or software-tweaked?


    January 23, 2018 at 8:21 AM

    • Meet fireweed, the emblemic wildflower of a great swathe of North America:


      Beyond what that map shows, fireweed grows way up into Alaska.

      When I prepared today’s post I didn’t link back to the picture with the caterpillar because I felt it too similar in some ways to this image. When I look now, I don’t see it as all that similar. The background color here, by the way, is only indirectly from the sky: I was aiming somewhat downward at the water in Emerald Lake.

      I shoot in RAW format, so almost all my pictures are somewhat tweaked, as the default version in Adobe Camera Raw is almost always the first word rather than the last.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2018 at 9:12 AM

  4. This is a beautiful shot.


    January 23, 2018 at 8:49 AM

    • This is something you might see an approximation of, given that frostweed is reported to grow in your county. Just substitute Lake Michigan for Emerald Lake.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2018 at 9:14 AM

  5. That’s one of my favorite plants. Besides being beautiful to see it is very beneficial as a colonizer, one of the first plants to bring new life to areas ravaged by forest fires or other damage.


    January 23, 2018 at 9:52 AM

    • You live in Montana, so how could fireweed not be a favorite? On the other hand, the -weed in the name fireweed leads me to think there are people who don’t appreciate this wildflower, even though the name also reflects the fact that it’s “one of the first plants to bring new life to areas ravaged by forest fires or other damage,” as you said. If fireweed grew down here, it’d be one of my favorites, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2018 at 10:15 AM

  6. I love Ivan Chai that is fermented fireweed’s leaves! 🙂


    January 23, 2018 at 10:57 AM

    • Thanks for pointing that out, and from such a distant part of the world. I found this in the Wikipedia article about fireweed: “In Russia, its leaves were traditionally used as a tea, before the introduction of tea from China starting in the 17th Century, it was greatly valued and was exported in large quantities to Western Europe as Koporye Tea (Копорский чай), Russian Tea or Ivan Chai. Fireweed leaves can undergo fermentation, much like real tea. Today, koporye tea or Ivan Chai is still commonly sold and consumed in Russia, though it is not nearly as popular as it was in Pre-Soviet Russia.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2018 at 11:04 AM

      • Yes! I have the blog post about how to make that tea too! 🙂 It’s not popular but at least it’s native to me 🙂


        January 23, 2018 at 11:17 AM

        • Yes indeed, it’s native to you because of fireweed’s wide distribution around the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Do you know why Ivan chai was more popular before the Soviet era?

          I found your post about preparing the tea:


          One thing I’ll add is that the word chai is not of Indian origin, but rather Chinese. Foreigners borrowed the word from different dialects of Chinese, and that’s why the resulting word in some languages has one form, and in others another. For example, on the one hand Russian has chai and Portuguese has chá, while English has tea and Spanish has .

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 23, 2018 at 11:58 AM

          • Don’t know, but I guess that before “all get all from everything else” people used what they can grow by themselves 🙂


            January 23, 2018 at 1:26 PM

  7. Brilliant colors against the sky, Steve. I enjoyed the interesting thread of comments today, too. 🙂

    Jane Lurie

    January 23, 2018 at 11:18 AM

    • Just call me Mr. Colors, Jane. Since you bring up the interesting thread of comments today, I’ll point out that I added a link to Ilze’s recipe and also some commentary on the two forms that the word for tea takes in various languages.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2018 at 12:02 PM

  8. While living in Alaska, we were surrounded by fireweed. We used to say the higher the blossoms on the stalk, the closer the end of the summer.


    January 23, 2018 at 12:20 PM

    • Alaska is one of the two states I’ve never been to, so I’d be happy to see it covered with fireweed in the way you mentioned. Have you been able to verify that your impression is valid, that the higher the blossoms on the stalk, the closer the end of summer? Does that imply that the buds gradually open from the bottom upwards?

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2018 at 12:27 PM

      • I hope you will be able to visit Alaska one of these days. And yes, I think that little saying came about because people used to watch nature much more closely, and were able to read its signs. We found that the rule was generally true.


        January 23, 2018 at 12:59 PM

        • Then here’s to Alaska, and also to North Dakota, the other state I’m still missing.

          It does seem likely that people on average were more attuned to nature centuries ago than people are today. On the other hand, folk sayings and beliefs were sometimes downright wrong. For example, there was once a belief in Europe that a birthmark on a newborn baby meant that the mother didn’t fulfill a certain craving during pregnancy. And some proverbs contradict each other. A classic example is “Out of sight, out of mind” and “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

          It’s good to hear that in your case the evidence generally supported the saying.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 23, 2018 at 4:17 PM

  9. I really like the pastel colors. The blush of pink in the background at the top and bottom of the image is especially nice — the purer turquoise in the center helps to draw the eye to the plant, I think.


    January 23, 2018 at 9:01 PM

    • It’s not often I find so pastel a subject and background, so I’m pleased with the photograph. You’re perceptive about the upper and lower bands of faint pink. After looking at the uncropped original, I can say that the lower band is from the shallow water right at the near edge of the lake, and the upper one is most likely from the far shore of the lake.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2018 at 10:33 PM

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