Fireweed is a robust summer annual broadleaf weed that is also called American Burnweed or its scientific name, Erechtites hieraciifolia.
American Burnweed features long, solid stems that can be either smooth or hairy. Its leaves spiral into narrow, sharp-pointed bases on the lower part of stem and form clasping bases on the upper part of the stem. The leaf margins are unevenly toothed and feature a white mid-rib. This broadleaf weed also has a short, fat taproot and may have many prop roots branching out of it. American Burnweed produces white flowers that bloom in mid- to late summer and reproduces by wind-dispersed seeds.
This broadleaf weed thrives in moist or damp areas, including fields, thickets and along roadsides. It can also be found in recently burned or scorched areas, hence the name Fireweed. It gives off a foul odor when crushed or broken and grows in much of the midwestern to eastern parts of the United States and parts of the West Coast.
Cultural weed control methods can be effective at minimizing the presence of Erechtites hieraciifolia. These methods including proper mowing practices and aerating the soil in your lawn. Soil aeration relieves the thick, compacted thatch layers that inhibit a thick, healthy lawn, providing room for this broadleaf weed to germinate.