Narrow-leaved fireweed is a perennial herb belonging to the cypress family. A straight, unbranched, juicy stalk reaches a height of 75 to 200 cm.The creeping rhizome is well developed, has numerous processes and can reach a length of 100 cm.The leaves are alternate, sessile (very short petiole), elongated, with a pointed apex.
The flowers are wide open, painted in purple or hot pink, gather in a conical brush in the upper part of the plant. The fruit is an elongated capsule with numerous small seeds inside. A characteristic feature of fireweed seeds is the presence of a crest (consists of fluffs), due to which the seeds can fly to a considerable distance from this medicinal plant.
Narrow-leafed fireweed blooms in the summer – from mid-June to mid-August, bears fruit in late July – August.
The natural distribution range of the narrow-leaved fireweed is almost the entire territory of Russia. Abundantly this medicinal plant grows along roads, in forest clearings, burnt areas and embankments.
Useful properties of fireweed
In folk medicine, both the aerial part of the fireweed is used – leaves and flowers, and the underground part – the rhizome. The collection of leaves and flowers occurs during the flowering period of the medicinal plant, and the flowers should not be fully opened, since there is a high probability that during drying they will turn into seeds. Before drying, the leaves are separated from the shoots and laid out under a canopy in a thin layer.
The roots are harvested after flowering (in the autumn). After digging, the rhizome is cleaned of the earth and washed well under cold water, and then dried in the oven at a temperature of 70 ° C.
The chemical composition of the leaves of fireweed contains a number of useful organic compounds: flavonoids, tannins (up to 20%), mucous substances (up to 15%), tannin of the pyrogall group (up to 10%), alkaloids (0, 1%), coumarins, sugar, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), iron, manganese, provitamin A (retinol acetate).
In the chemical composition of the roots, carotenoids, flavonoids, tannins, starch, and mucous substances were found.
The chemical composition of the flowers contains flavonoids, tannins, mucous substances, ascorbic acid, coumarins, sugars and essential oils.
Healing infusions and decoctions of fireweed are used in folk medicine as an effective enveloping, anti-inflammatory, wound healing, soothing, hemostatic and laxative.