Reddish Vale Country Park
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Rosebay Willow Herb
Rosebay Willow herb is a native perennial of rocks, scree, wood edges, gardens, roadsides, waste places and any disturbed ground.
Very common throughout Britain, but rarer in Ireland, grows to a height of 1.5m.
A fast spreading weed whose white, fluffy seeds are a familiar sight blowing in the wind in the autumn.
Rosebay Willowherb blooms for about a month. The flowers are popular with bees and when they are fertilised and once the flowers have fallen off, a long quadrangular narrow pod remains. When it is ripe, it splits into four strands and we see a mass of silky white hairs attached to its top. It only needs a slight breeze to send them flying through the air. The plant also spreads itself with creeping roots, so with these two methods of multiplying itself , it is no wonder that a few Rosebay Willowherbs can soon develop into a whole patch.
The Rosebay Willowherb has an ability to cover land damaged by fire with a vast purple garden which has earned it the well-deserved name of "Fireweed".
Mrs Grieve in her classic "A Modern Herbal" (1931) tells us the following:
"The leaves of Rosebay Willowherb have been used as a substitute and adulterant of tea. Though no longer so employed in England, the leaves of both this species and of the Great Hairy Willowherb are largely used in Russia, under the name of Kaporie Tea".