Astery Things #3: New York Ironweed

Growing along the fence with the joe-pye weeds in my garden is another oddball asteraceous species: Vernonia noveboracensis, or New York iron weed.

Like the joe-pye species, the inflorescence of NY ironweed consists only of disk florets; there are no rays at all. And what a great example of this kind of flower it is: look closely and you can see how five narrow petals, fused at the base, form a corolla, from which a split style pops way out.

There are two native species in MD; the other one, broad-leaved ironweed (V. glauca), is found in a few locations in the eastern Piedmont and in the Coastal Plain, while New York ironweed is found throughout the state. There’s also an alien, Arkansas ironweed (V. arkansana) reported in one location in the Coastal Plain.

New York ironweed’s native range is from southern New England into northern Florida and west into central Kentucky and Tennessee (and in one county way out in northern New Mexico). It’s listed “special concern” in Kentucky and “presumed extirpated” in Ohio.

Often described as “coarse” in texture, this is a tall forb – over six feet in ideal conditions – with an open habit. It likes moist to wet soils; in the wild you’ll find it growing along river banks, in the full sun or dappled shade.

In the garden site it where it will get enough sun and water, in the back since it gets so tall, or along a fence. It doesn’t attract butterflies as well as the joe-pye weeds do, but bees go crazy for it. And it blooms for a long time.

I was trying to get good, clear close-up shots of the flowers, with the camera mounted on a tripod, but something large and white kept moving around in the upper reaches of the plants. As soon as I realized what it was I took the camera in hand and tried to get pictures of yet another type of butterfly. It never stayed still, so all the shots were lousy and I was pretty bummed… until the next day. More about that in my next post.

3 thoughts on “Astery Things #3: New York Ironweed

      • I think that in some situation, for plants with seed that are easily transmitted, the seed really does get transmitted by animals. Yet, there are so many that are not easily transmitted and have no reason for being so weirdly dispersed. I think that the ponderosa pine that lives here are leftover from a time when the range was continuous between here and the Sierra Nevada. The same for the Monterey pine and Monterey cypress, although they could have broken off from the main colonies and ‘migrated’ up or down the coast. They have way too much free time for such ventures.

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