Plant A Day – Giant Ironweed

Giant Ironweed Vernonia gigantea

Giant Ironweed
Vernonia gigantea

There are basically three species of Vernonia in Indiana.  I say basically, because there are a couple of very rare species and, the species that are here are variable and tend to interbreed.  All of this makes it somewhat confusing to identify exactly which species you’re looking at.  My tendency is just to call it Ironweed and be done with it.

However, hear are some pointers.

Giant Ironweed,  20-30 flowers per flowerhead, smooth leaves

Missouri Ironweed,  35-55 flowers per flowerhead, hairy leaves

Prairie Ironweed, 20-30 flowers per flowerhead, smooth leaves with dark dots on the underside

Keep in mind that these characteristics can be variable, and the plants interbreed.  Hmmm.

Flowerheads have 20-30 flowers per inflorescence

Flowerheads have 20-30 flowers per inflorescence

The leaves are less hairy than Missouri Ironweed

The leaves are less hairy than Missouri Ironweed

The stem is smooth to slightly hairy

The stem is smooth to slightly hairy

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