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Smooth Ironweed

Vernonia fasciculata


This species of ironweed is sometimes commonly called smooth ironweed because its leaves, stems and flower heads are distinctively glabrous. It is native from Ohio to North Dakota south to Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. It typically occurs in low moist prairies and in swampy river bottom meadows. This is an upright perennial that typically grows 2-4’ (infrequently to 5’) tall on stiff, leafy stems which branch at the top. Narrow, linear to lance-shaped leaves (to 5” long) have serrated margins. Composite flowers, each with dense, fluffy, purple disks (rays absent), bloom in dense, fastigiately clustered, corymbose cymes from late summer into fall. Flowers give way to rusty seed clusters. The source of the common name for vernonias has been varyingly attributed to certain “iron-like” plant qualities including tough stems, rusty-tinged fading flowers and rusty colored seeds. Notwithstanding its toughness, the plant is, with the exception of its attractive flowers, a somewhat unexceptional ornamental. Genus name honors English botanist William Vernon, who collected plants in America in the late 1600s. Species name means in a bundle or cluster. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies.

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Spotted by

Wisconsin, USA

Spotted on Sep 4, 2015
Submitted on Oct 18, 2016

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