Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vernonia gigantea

The title of this post is the Latin name for my favorite wildflower - Ironweed. Specifically, Tall Ironweed. There is also New York Ironweed, which , according to my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers (Eastern Region), could also grow in these parts, but the preferred habitat differentiates them. The New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveberacensis) prefers moist low ground and streambanks, whereas Tall Ironweed grows in meadows, open woods and pastures, which is the predominant landscape in rural Athens county, and is certainly the landscape where I took these pictures.

There are other details which separate the 2 species from each other (such as flower size and type, and leaf size and type), but I don't have the flower in front of me right now to verify that information. So it's possible that my ID still isn't correct, even though the differing habitats would seem to indicate that it is. But we'll leave the challenges of flower identification to another post.

What I do know for sure is that I love this plant, with its vibrant color, tall stature, and implied hardiness (the term "ironweed" makes me think of something that is very tough and durable). I certainly never want to wish summer away, but I always look forward to the blooming of the Ironweed in August and September.

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