The pilewort (Erechtites hieraciifolius), is nicknamed the fireweed. It quickly regrows in fields that have been burned. It looks to the eye as nothing more than a weed.
If a September wind blows through fields full of the plant, it seems to be raining tiny dandelion seeds.
Folk Uses for Pilewort
Every animal and plant has some redeeming value. That truism is not proven false for E. hieraciifolius. For one thing, the white hairs of the plant can be used to stuff pillows and toy animals. The name suggests the plant is good in treating piles (hemorrhoids). Erechtites is known for its foul smelling odor.
Reported uses for the plant include the treating of hemorrhage, dysentery, skin diseases, and cholera. It also has been used as a purgative and emetic.
Nitrogen dioxide from motor vehicles and other sources contribute to chemical smog. This gas worsens respiratory ailments. Pilewort is very effective in filtering NO₂ (nitrogen dioxide) from the air. So (if for no other reason) it is useful in the purification of the air we breathe.
Note: You might also enjoy Discovering Dragon’s Arum in Nelson, Virginia
- Illinois Wildflowers: Pilewort
- Minnesota Wildflowers: Erechtites hieracifolia (Pilewort)
- Cornell University: Canadian Journal of Plant Science Vol. 92 No. 4 July 2012
- EPA: Nitrogen Dioxide
One thought on “Pilewort: Wildflower or Weed? Practical Value?”
Everything has its place and its use.