We humans are the masters of disturbance. Everywhere we go, we leave telltale signs of us having been there. Landscape disturbance is our specialty and there are now entire ecosystems developing in these man-made environments. Unfortunately, the kinds of plants that enjoy our company are often aggressive invaders from other continents whose hyper abundance spells disaster for more sensitive, native species. Even under ideal conditions, the alteration of the soil environment means that only the hardiest species can survive. With habitat restoration efforts on the rise, people are looking far and wide for native species that can cope with our presence. Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium – http://bit.ly/1A6JWvu) is one such species. Provided ample amounts of sun and decently moist soils, this member of the willowherb family can rise to surprising abundance in a very short amount of time. Its common name comes from its sudden appearance after a wildfire. A forested site completely devoid of this species can quickly become a dense stand of bright pink fireweed following a modest burn. In fact, in the right circumstances, this plant can become quite aggressive. The upside to this is that it is a widely used species both as a nectar source for pollinators as well as a food source for lepidoptera. I don’t know about you but I would much prefer a stand of fireweed over a stand of mugwort any day! Once established, this species requires little care. The one thing it can’t handle, however, is competition. If other species are allowed to grow in and over top it, fireweed will quickly succumb. In today’s world chock full of disturbed habitats, work must be done if we are to conserve native flora. The loss of our native early successional species to more aggressive invaders is a real issue. By choosing species like fireweed for a native planting, you are helping to restore a bit of nativeness to your landscape. Introducing native plants that can cope with and thrive in a human dominated landscape is critical now more than ever.