In the process of forest management, nature burns the undergrowth, and a renewal process begins with fireweed. This wildflower is one of the first recovery growth plants after a forest fire. It grows to over 6 feet tall and has a beautiful scarlet/lavender bouquet that blooms for over a week.
Fireweed is listed in the family of Onagracae plants. Fireweed is also referred to as a “pioneer plant” because it is quick to grow back in burned areas. After a fire, fireweed will flourish and produce honey for about two or three years. New shrubs, brush and small trees soon crowd out the fireweed and a new burn cycle will occur before fireweed can grow from seed in the area again.
Fireweed grows further north than any other major honey plant. Fireweed has adapted to climates from mountain heights to coastal plains, from Alaska to California. The Pacific Northwest has ideal climate conditions for this royal premium honey producing plant. The higher in elevation the honey is collected in the hive, the clearer the honey color. Some fireweed honey can be as colorless as water. The weather plays a very important role in fine fireweed honey production. The fireweed nectar flow occurs only when the humidity is less than 50%. Fireweed may start blooming as early as June at sea level and continue to bloom as late as September, in high mountain areas of Mount Hood, Mount Baker and following the Cascade Mountain range far into Canada to Alaska. The annual production of fireweed honey ALWAYS is regulated by fire and weather. Without fires and good weather, fireweed cannot be collected in commercial quantities. So every year may not be a good “fireweed honey” year!
Natives to Alaska claim that, when the seeds of the fireweed turn cottony, and begin to float on the air, winter isn’t far behind. The local proverb also claims that the height of the fireweed bloom stalk will indicate how severe the winter will be. The taller the fireweed blooms the harder the winter is anticipated.
Oregon, Washington, Alaska and British Columbia have inherited this beautiful wildflower as national treasures, that leaves behind a “nectar from the heavens”. Fireweed honey has been identified for over a hundred years as the “champagne of honey’s”. Like the phoenix the fireweed raises from the ashes to produce a beautiful flower that the honeybee turns into one of the finest gourmet honeys ever isolated and sold as an individual floral honey.
The fireweed honey is almost colorless, a bouquet fragrance, a silky smooth texture, and has a nice light fruit finish. Fireweed honey is very slow to crystallize (and the slow process of turning from honey in two sugar crystals, the honey is not hurt in any way and can been brought back to complete honey by setting the jar in a pan of warm water for about 30 minutes, and do not boil, the temperature of about 110° is ideal, place the water on your wrist, if it is warm and comfortable then the water is just right.)
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