Lindsay wrote today's entry:
Found throughout North America, Europe, Asia and even parts of Africa, this roadside perennial depends on wind for seed dispersal and will establish quickly in open areas after a disturbance or fire, hence its common name, fireweed. Indeed, this brazen species was one of the first to colonize after Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980.
Fireweed has been prized by First Nations for its versatility: the Haida used the outer stem fibres of fireweed to make cord while the Coast Salish used the seed fluff for weaving and padding. When properly prepared soon after picking, the leaves are also a good source of vitamin C and provitamin-A. It also makes excellent honey! The Plants for a Future Database lists fireweed as traditionally having been used as an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, emollient, hypnotic, laxative, poultice, and tonic.
A photograph of the plant is available in this previous BPotD posting: Chamerion angustifolium.