10 September 2017

Wingstem or Ironweed is Verbesina

Wingstem or Ironweed is classified as a weed by the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide but we planted it intentionally as a butterfly nectar food for our yard since its flowers are abundant in the fall when there is little else for our flying friends.
Ironweed or Wingstem is Verbesina alternaefolia

One if its other common names is Ironweed and there are several other plants with that common name, including Veronia novemboracensis which has blue-purple flowers in the fall.

Pine Ridge Gardens in NW Arkansas was the source for our original plant. It has taken several years for it to become 12 feet tall and begin to sucker out into the dry bed where it lives.


Since the blossoms are small we find a lot of skippers nectaring on the flowers. Oklahoma's Bina Flower Moth and Aluring Schinia Moth use these plants to raise their caterpillars.

Wingstem, a member of the Aster family, is definitely an American native plant and can be found flourishing in open fields.


Other plant relatives include Yellow Crownbeard (Verbesina helianthoides) and Frostweed or White Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica).


As they mature in the fall, the petals of Ironweed flowers pull back or become reflexive.

There are 300 plants in the Crownbeard genus. They all have flowers that resemble miniature sunflowers, no matter which color they are.

These are not front of the garden plants. If you have a part or full sun spot where you can let them go, Ironweeds will thrive, providing nectar for butterflies, a nursery for moths and seeds for a bird-friendly yard.










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