Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 24th, 2018

What I didn’t know about fireweed

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To tell the truth, before the trip to the Rocky Mountains in Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia, I knew almost nothing about fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium). In nature shows on television I’d occasionally caught a glimpse of the plants flowering, and that was about it.

In addition to yesterday’s strictly “vegetarian” post, three previous photographs showed you fireweed flowers and animals. In one case it was with a bumblebee, in another with a ground squirrel, and the third with a caterpillar. What impressed me about the plant in its own right was its seeds. The reddish seed pods are long and narrow, and when they open, which surprisingly often happens from the proximal rather than the distal end, they release seeds attached to silky strands, much like milkweed seeds. At the moment when I took the photograph above in Waterton Lakes National Park on August 29th, the newly freed seeds still partly preserved the alignment they’d had just a short while earlier when compressed inside their slender pods. That same temporary clinging to the past is visible in the photograph below, which is from near the shore of Emerald Lake in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park on September 7th.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2018 at 4:52 AM

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