Q: What is this pretty wildflower I am seeing along the roadsides here in Callahan?

Q: What is this pretty wildflower I am seeing along the roadsides here in Callahan? It is tall, maybe about 4 to 5 feet.

A: Thanks for bringing in a sample to the office. I my sent photos to the University of Florida to verify its identity and they believe it is the perennial wildflower called Ironweed in the genus Vernonia, This plant is commonly found throughout Nassau County, Florida and most of the U.S. except for a few western states. The dark, purple flowers bloom from August through October. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and can live in full sun to partial shade. There are several cultivated varieties which can be purchased through on-line vendors or a local native plant nursery. Most are tall, with the potential of reaching heights up to 12 feet. This makes it a rare plant for most landscapes. However, there is one particular variety, grown in rocky soil, which grows no taller than about 2 feet. The hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love Ironweed. It is so popular with the pollinators you would be hard pressed to find it sitting alone with no animal visitors. If you love to photograph pollinators, Ironweed will provide you great success. The genus name ‘Vernonia’ was given in honor of William Vernon, an English botanist who gathered plant specimens from North America. ‘Ironweed’ refers to the toughness of the stem and how difficult it is to dig up even with a shovel. Native Americans used the root to relieve pain… Be careful about using the common name “Ironweed” as there are other plants with this name so if you are interested which are not nearly as attractive. Use the genus to narrow your field of search when looking for it on-line.


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Posted: June 14, 2017

Category: Home Landscapes
Tags: Ironweed, Vernonia

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