Dwarf fireweed is a tufted perennial herb in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae) with an erect, grayish-green leafy stem and bright pink four-petalled flowers. Plants grow 15-40 cm tall arising from a rootstock, typically found on gravel bars along streams (hence it's other common name 'river beauty') and scree slopes. Leaves are alternate or opposite, fleshy, broadly lanceolate to elliptic in shape, with entire leaf margins. Stems and leaves are hairless. Flowers are large and axillary, with 4 pink to purple petals alternating with 4 narrowly lanceolate purple sepals. The fruit is an elongated dehiscentcapsule. Seed have a tuft of silky white hair to aid in dispersal by wind. The closely related common fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) has similar flowers, but is a tall plant, with a large, many-flowered spike. Also, dwarf fireweed foliage has a characteristic whitish blush not evident in its larger-statured cousin.
Chamerion latifolium flowers in mid-summer.
Chamerion latifolium is insect pollinated, most likely by flies, bees and wasps. Seeds have attached hairs to aid in wind dispersal. This species also readily reproduces vegetatively.
Leaves, stems and flowers are edible either raw or cooked. Indigenous people mix the plant with fat or oil, or make a tea to treat gastrointestinal distress (Moerman 2010).
Chamerion latifolium is a circumpolar species. In North America, this species occurs from Alaska to Greenland and south into the western continental U.S. It is common and widespread in suitable habitat across Alaska. It is also common and widespread in Denali, growing on both sides of the Alaska Range.
Epilobium latifolium is found at elevations from 134 m to 1752 m, with an average plot elevation of 974 m. It is most commonly seen in plots with an average slope of 15 degrees. It seems to prefer east and west facing plots.