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Tall Ironweed, Giant Ironweed, Ironweed - Vernonia gigantea


Family: Asteraceae – Aster family Genus Common Name: Ironweed Native Status: Native
Vernonia gigantea - Tall Ironweed, Giant Ironweed, Ironweed. One or more species of Ironweed is found in 40 of the 50 states. Vernonia gigantea is one of the more widespread species, being found in 25 states. As the name implies, it can be a tall species, up to 10 feet. The purple flowers bloom in August and on into November.

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Distribution of Vernonia gigantea in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 19 Sep 2014). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2009-October-03Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D60
Vernonia gigantea is a member of the Aster family (some call it the Composite Family; some call it the Sunflower family) with only disk florets. There are 13 to 30 florets per blossom. The similar New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), which shares much of the eastern-most range with V. Gigantea, has more than 30 florets per bloom.
Vernonia gigantea

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2009-October-03Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Click on the photo for a larger image
Vernonia gigantea

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-October-09Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Ironweed catching morning rays along with frequent co-habitant Goldenrod in the background.
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Vernonia gigantea

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-August-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
The features of involucre parts of many species are used as identifying characteristics. From one description of Vernonia gigantea: “Phyllaries 30–40+ in 4–5 series, glabrate, margins ciliolate, the outer lance-ovate, 1–2 mm, inner oblong, 3.5–5 mm, tips acute or rounded-apiculate.” Near as I can translate, that describes these. (Description from Missouri Botanical Gardens.)
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Vernonia gigantea

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-August-14Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
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Vernonia gigantea

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-August-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
The stem of Tall Ironweed may be smooth, or may be covered with tiny hairs as shown in this photo.
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Vernonia gigantea

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-August-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Both the upper and lower surfaces of Vernonia gigantea are rough-feeling. The leaf edges are serrated. This plant may include some hybridization with V. flaccidifolia - Tennessee Ironweed - since it does not show the obvious hairs which would be typical of Tall Ironweed.
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Vernonia gigantea

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-October-09Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Bumblebee leg holding on to an Ironweed blossom on a cool, dewy morning.
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Vernonia gigantea

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-November-21Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm 4-5.6 VR ED
55 (82 equiv)
Ironweed may be as beautiful in the fall as in the summer. Here with a backdrop of Goldenrod.
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Vernonia gigantea

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2014
Photographs Copyrighted by the named photographer