Vascular Plants of Wisconsin

Erechtites hieraciifolius (L.) Raf.
American burn-weed; fireweed
Family: Asteraceae

native: yes
type: annual

plant fruiting head leaf stem
plant fruiting and flowering heads stem leaf stem and leaf bases
 

Erechtites hieraciifolius in Wisconsin is an annual plant of highly variable size, ranging from 5-10 cm tall with a few flower heads, to about 2 meters tall and bushy with many flower heads. Leaves are alternate with toothed margins and the lower leaves are often somewhat lobed as well. The flowers lack showy corollas (they are whitish and largely held withing the involucre) and may pass through the flowering stage without drawing attention, until the fruits are formed with numerous white hairs at the tip of each mature achene. Some of the photos on the web showing bright yellow flower heards for Erechtites hieraciifolius are probably in error and the most conspicuous in that group that I have seen appear to be Senecio vulgaris.

Erechtites hieraciifolius may occur as widely scattered individuals, or in good conditions may be the aspect dominant on a site. I have seen this species most commonly along the edges of lakes on exposed lakebeds and beaches (there on moist or wet soil) or on recent construction sites, in all cases in full sun or nearly so. In my experience, it appears to be increasing in distribution in northern Wisconsin over the last 25 years and is doubtless more common in northern Wisconsin than the map (based on voucher collections) indicates.

map
known distribution based on vouchers

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