(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