Vernonia noveboracensis; Asteraceae (aster family)
This coarse-textured plant is a joy to find in the wild. Growing up to six feet, it likes full sun and wet soils, so you’ll find it not far from the river banks, facing the water from the treeline.
It’s one of 30 species of Vernonia native to the US, though only two others are found in this area. Occurring primarily on the East Coast, it’s listed as a plant of special concern in Kentucky, and is presumed extirpated in Ohio.
New York ironweed is also an important source of pollen. The Xerces Society considers it of “special value to native bees”. It would make a great companion to joe-pye weed in the back of a perennial border, especially in a yard with drainage issues.
Remember hairy hawkweed from a few days ago? That composite flower has only rays. This one has only disc flowers. In the below left picture you can see the five petals of the corolla, with the reproductive parts rising out of them.