1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)

Rosebay Willowherb

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

An easy to identify plant usually found in large numbers with many flowers to make a salad pretty.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Rosebay Willowherb, Fireweed
Scientific Name Chamerion angustifolium
Season Start Apr
Season End Oct
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Long and lanceolate, green sometimes with a flush of red or a red leaf base.

The leaves of Rosebay Willowherb are unique in that the veins are circular and do not terminate at the leaf edges but form circular loops and join together. This can help with identification before the flowers appear.


The flower has four purple/pink petals and some say it resembles a rose, hence the name.

The seed pod is long, thin and browny red, it contains hundreds of tiny, silky haired seeds that the wind can carry a long way.


The tiny seeds are held within a light, fluffy down.

Seed Pods

Unopened seed pods are long and usually green to red.


Tall, straight, erect and red with a pithy core.


Bare soil, open woodland, paths, roadsides, gardens, waste ground and particularly on previously burnt ground.

Possible Confusion

Loosestrife, pictured, can look similar but with the different flowers and the unique leaf vein pattern of Rosebay Willowherb it should be hard to confuse theses plants.




Pleasant while the leaves are very young.




The very young shoots can be treated like asparagus and served with butter and lemon, the older leaves get very bitter.

Young leaves can be added to salads.

The soft inner part of the stem can be easily removed and used as a thickener for soups or stews.

The flowers can be used to brighten a salad.

Medicinal Uses

Has been used in the treatment of whooping cough, hiccoughing and asthma.

Other Facts

Fireweed, one of its common names refers to the fact that Rosebay Willowherb will grow on burnt ground as the seeds can settle deep in the soil and remain viable for many years.
A tiny bit of root left in the ground will grow into a plant after many years if the soil is disturbed.
The hairy seeds gathered together make a great tinder for sparks or friction fires.
The hairs have been used as a fine clothing fibre.


4 comments for Rosebay Willowherb

  1. Sergey says:

    Great site!
    Here in Russia, we love a “tea” made of fermented Rose-Bay. We call it “Иван Чай”. Fantastic taste an color.

  2. Chrissie Anderson says:

    I have heard that rosebay willowherb is highly toxic. I am confused, is this right?

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      The only research I can find says that it is toxic to horses not humans.

  3. Alex says:

    It used to be widely spread through ancient Slavic communities as a potent tea. Very good for prostate, male weakness etc. Better to drink fermented as it has a nice tea taste opposite to dried which has just a “dried herb” taste.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *