Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Burnweed - Erechtites hieraciifolia   (L.) Rafinesque ex de Candolle
Members of Asteraceae:
Only member of Erechtites in NC.
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Section 6 » Family Asteraceae
Author(L.) Rafinesque ex de Candolle
DistributionThroughout the state, including the Outer Banks. The odd gap in the northeastern corner is not real, at is has been found in essentially all VA counties.

Newf. to Sask., south to southern FL and southeastern TX; through much of Latin America.
AbundanceFrequent to common throughout, and often abundant in recently burned or cleared areas. The lack of collections for eight adjacent counties in the northern Coastal Plain defies explanation!
HabitatPractically all kinds of woodlands and forests (except the most xeric), clearings and roadsides. This species has the remarkable ability to sprout in the middle of the densest swamp or forest, following a treefall, a local fire, or some mechanical disturbance -- as if the seeds were already there and waiting.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting Late July-November. Seeds are transported by wind by parachuting.
IdentificationAmerican Burnweed is a robust and very tall herb, often to 7-9 feet tall; it is a very unkempt, weedy-looking plant. Plants may flower at any size, from a few inches to 9 feet high. Plants are essentially hairless, with alternate, elliptic leaves that are irregularly toothed on the margins and are 2-8 inches long. Heads are abruptly wider at the base of the flower bracts -- a useful ID character. The heads are all disk florets, creamy white, eventually producing abundant, long, white, conspicuous hairs. To the average observer, it appears never to flower, or the flowers seem never to open -- going directly to the fluffy white "seeds".
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Pilewort, Fireweed. Older references often named it as Fireweed, but a completely different plant, the showy-flowered Chamaenerion danielsii, is also known as that species, and it has no other good alternate common name. This composite does have alternate names, such as Pilewort and the more newly used Burnweed or American Burnweed.
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieMoist roadside near Whispering Pines. Aug 2017. MoorePhoto_natural
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