fire·​weed ˈfī(-ə)r-ˌwēd How to pronounce fireweed (audio)
: any of several plants that grow especially in clearings or burned districts: such as
: a weedy annual composite (Erechtites hieraciifolia synonym E. hieraciifolius) of eastern North America having flower heads of whitish tubular disk flowers enveloped by green bracts
: a tall perennial (Epilobium angustifolium) of the evening-primrose family that has long spikes of pinkish-purple flowers and is an important honey plant in some areas

called also willow herb

Did you know?

This is a perennial wildflower of the evening primrose family. Its spikes of whitish to magenta flowers, which grow up to 5 ft (1.5 m) high, are a spectacular sight on prairies of the temperate zone. Its seeds can lie dormant for many years, awaiting the warmth necessary for germination. Fireweed is one of the first plants to appear after a forest or brush fire; it also rapidly covers scrub or woodland areas that have been cleared by machine. It has limited use in wild gardens, where it must be carefully checked and confined.

Examples of fireweed in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This week, Jeff and Jonathan discuss the diverse matter that falls from the sky, including fireweed seeds, cottonwood seeds and pollen. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, 21 July 2023 Wild Blueberry is made with wild Alaskan blueberries, and Fireweed features natural fireweed extract and honey. Blake Bakkila, Sunset Magazine, 14 July 2023 These are poems of saplings, sorrel, peregrine falcons, fox, fireweed, rhubarb, sourdock, and ice. Nina MacLaughlin,, 8 June 2023 The pair hiked up to Harding Glacier, watched black bears play in a field of pink fireweed, and made a fire by the sea on a warm evening. Anchorage Daily News, 23 Feb. 2023 This polar bear cub was playing in a mass of fireweed on the coast of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2023 Right now, the fireweed on our property has ended its purple display. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Aug. 2022 Researchers are trying to gain insights into what might happen to arctic-alpine plants like those seen on the high mountain slopes, such as forget-me-nots and fireweed. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 13 Feb. 2020 Gregus spied on this polar bear cub playing in a patch of fireweed on the coast of Hudson Bay, Canada. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 13 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fireweed.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1764, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fireweed was in 1764

Dictionary Entries Near fireweed

Cite this Entry

“Fireweed.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


fire·​weed ˈfī(ə)r-ˌwēd How to pronounce fireweed (audio)
: a plant with pinkish purple flowers that grows especially in clearings or burned areas

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