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Butterflies and Associated Larval Food Plants

June 20, 2009 Walk/Chapter Meeting

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Top 10 Mosses for the Southeastern US

Vernonia gigantea
    (ver-NON-ee-uh    jy-GAN-tee-uh)
Tall Ironweed, taken on July 14, 2014.
Photo Credit: Mike Strickland

Vernonia gigantea can do well in the home landscape.

Often seen growing in moist soils by the roadsides and in meadows and open woodlands, Vernonia gigantea or tall ironweed, catches the attention with its 4 - 8 feet tall erect stems that are topped with deep purple-blue flower heads. The dense, fluffy, purple blooms occur from late summer to early fall and last about 6 weeks. It is an excellent nectar plant and is visited by many species of butterflies and native bees. Because of the bitter foliage, deer and rabbits avoid Ironweed as a food source. The common name refers to the toughness of the stem.

Common uses for this plant include: As a background plant for borders in a wildflower or native plant garden. Can also be used on the edges of natural or created wetlands and streams. Although it is often seen growing in the wild in moist soils, it is very adaptable and performs quite well in average garden soils in sun, part sun, or shade. It is a strong competitor in the garden, so care should be taken to remove flower heads before seed develops to avoid any unwanted self-seeding.

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