Vernon's Ironweed
Narrowleaf Ironweed - Tall Ironweed)
Vernonia angustifolia (L) Michaux
Asteraceae (Composite Sunflower) Family


This plant is an upright, hairy to smooth perennial. Its preferred habitat is pinelands and dunes. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

Leaves are alternate on the stem; consisting of one whole part; no leaf stalks; linear to narrowly lance-like; no teeth and no lobes but may have scattered teeth.

Flowers are panicle-like flat-topped clusters; bisexual in nature; symmetrical in form. Disc flowers are purple; there are no ray flowers. Flowers occur in the summer.

The individual flowers that make up the flower head of ironweed or boneset are tubular and contain a rich nectar. Bee keepers value ironweed as a source for making honey, but the name 'ironweed' was derived from the tough stems that stand upright through the winter.

Fruit is a capsule.

The related Giant Ironweed, V. gigantea, and New York Ironweed, V. nove-boracensis, have far larger leaves that are stalked, lance-shaped, serrated and may have a downy underside. Preferred habitat of those species is bottomlands, marshes and moist ditches. Each species will have variations in the leaf structure and discerning one from the other may be difficult at best.

The genus name honors the English botanist William Vernon, who did field work in North America.

Extracts from the plant were once used for treating stomach ailments.

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