There is a species of wildflower called chamerion angustifolium, that is typically the first plant to colonize a field after a forest fire. While the Latin name for this flower is chamerion angustifolium, most people call it by it’s common name: fireweed.

Fireweed grows well in damaged soil, spreading bursts of color even in areas affected by an oil spill. In World War II, these beautiful flowers covered the craters left by bombs.

Fireweed is a pioneer species — it spreads quickly to cover a damaged landscape and its roots put nitrogen back into the soil, increasing the soil’s fertility and beginning a chain of ecological succession that ultimately leads to a healthy ecosystem. Once its job is done, it dies off, but its seeds remain in the ground for many years, ready to blossom once again when needed.