Fireweed honey is a premium monofloral honey, light in color with a mild taste. This honey is often referred to as the Champagne of all honeys. It is produced in the northwestern United States, particularly in Alaska. What makes this honey so special? Perhaps it is the unstoppable “spirit” of the plant itself.
Fireweed, or Chamerion angustifolium, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the willowherb family. It is native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, including large parts of the boreal forests. This hardy plant not only provides an abundant food source for honeybees and hummingbirds, it also has several medicinal uses. In addition, the shoots are edible and the leaves can be eaten or used to make tea.
The colorful blossoms of the fireweed plant vary from a bright pink to a deep purple color. Plants are tall, ranging from 3’ to 8’, with long clusters of blossoms, tapering in length from the bottom to the top. Because of its beauty, fireweed is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental plant, but it can easily become an aggressive weed. Fireweed has been known to grow in all types of soil but if prefers dry, rocky, even depleted soil. The name “fireweed” comes from the fact that this is often the first plant to grow back after a forest fire.
“Fireweed is a pioneer. It’s tiny seeds ride the wind like parachutes and begin new life where fate carries them. Even in clear-cuts, roadsides and burns, fireweed plants itself and rises up – stately, steadfast and strong. It rarely stands solo. Fireweed builds a thriving plant community through spreading seeds and lateral root networks. In summer, rose to violet-colored flowers bring immeasurable beauty to stark landscapes. They are so papery thin that they appear luminescent. I blush sometimes when I take a close look. They remind me of the tender blaze of love, or a sweet encounter that leaves me breathless and awed.”
~Elise Krohn, Wild Foods and Medicines
In Alaska, fireweed is the most abundant and well-known wildflower. It reaches peak bloom by late July and early August. This short blooming season makes for a limited honey harvest, making Fireweed Honey–like other premium monofloral honeys such as Tupelo and Sourwood–a rare and sought-after honey, often bringing a high price. Because of the scarcity and high price of true fireweed honey, Alaskan homesteaders would create a substitute by boiling the blossoms in a mixture of sugar and water. This “recipe” is still used today. However, there is no substitute for true fireweed honey–only the bees have the real recipe!
Here at Winter Park Honey we have a limited supply of true Fireweed Honey, harvested in Mt. Ranier, Washington. Try this rare honey today!