Missouri Ironweed
Vernonia missurica
Composite Sunflower (Asteraceae) Family


Missouri Ironweed is an upright perennial plant to 6 feet tall. Its preferred habitat is places of full or partial sunlight, moist to average conditions, openings and edges of woodlands, swamps, seeps, limestone glades, edges of lakes, overgrazed pastures, vacant lots, and areas along railroads. It is common in disturbed areas. In severe drought conditions the plant is apt to wilt and abort its flowering cycle. Distribution in the Escambia region is occasional.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, dark green in color and usually about 4 inches long (leaves up to 7 inches long are known in the Midwest). The leaf is lance-like to narrowly oval in outline, and slightly serrated along the margins. The lower side is covered with dense white hairs.

The flowers occur on the central stout stem that is covered with fine white hairs. The flowers appear in a cluster of rayless heads. The flowering stems are hairy and reddish-brown in color. Each flower is about ½ inch across, and contains 30-60 disk florets. The flowers are bright magenta in color and are subtended by reddish-brown bracts. Flowers occur in late summer and early autumn.

Fruit is achene, with a small tuft of light brown hair, dispersed by the wind.

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