27 July 2013

Giant Iron Weed is Vernonia altissima gigantea

The Giant Ironweed is blooming for the first time since it was planted a few years ago. The two year drought and record heat interfered with it becoming successful before this.
Ironweed is Vernonia altissima

I confess that I bought the starts at a plant sale someplace because I love its name. Iron Weed! Indeed, who could resist?

Ironweed loves sun and grows in zones 5 to 9 according to one source, Plant Delights Nursery.

There are 1,000 Vernonia species. Vernonia was named for English botanist William Vernon.

Giant Ironweed

Since it can become invasive in farm fields there has been an effort to kill it out with herbicides. The result is that Ironweed has become endangered in some states such as New York. If you decide to plant it as part of your wildscape, keep an eye on the ground for seedlings in the spring and pull them out.

The leaves taste bitter so deer leave them alone but long tongued bees, butterflies, bumblebees, miner bees, leaf cutting bees love the flowers. Tiger Moth caterpillars eat the leaves.
Wildlife Insight
According to Plant Lust, Ironweed is cold hardy to zone 3, generally found in zones 5-10.

I'm thrilled to see it blooming and will watch for pollinator activity to see what in our garden enjoys sipping or eating Ironweed.

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