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(Vernonia gigantea)
Giant Ironweed

Host Species: American Lady Butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis)

Nectar Plant: many insects including other butterflies, bees, and wasps. Birds, enjoy the seeds in the fall.

Flower Color: pink to purple

Growth Habit: herbaceous perennial

Flowering Time: June to September

Range in North America: Mid-west and eastern United States and Ontario in Canada

Exposure: Prefers full sun to partial-shade

Hardiness: Zones 5-8

Soil Requirements: Moist to medium soil, but can handle dry

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Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea)

Close-up of purple flower of giant ironweed (Vernonia gigantea).

Flower of Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) — Andy Wilson, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Alternative Names

Tall Ironweed

Description of Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea)

Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea), a member of the Asteraceae (Aster Family), is a herbaceous perennial that grows from 2.5′ to 10′ tall and blooms with pink to purple flowers in the late spring to early fall (June to September).  This plant grows in places with full sun to partial-shade that have moist to medium well-drained soil.  More information on this species can be found on this blog post.

Hosted Species

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

American lady butterfly on white flower.

Nectar Species

This species is a nectar source to other butterflies, skippers, bees, and wasps during the growing season.  Birds, such as goldfinch, like to eat the seeds in the fall.

Habitat

This ironweed grows in floodplains, meadows, pastures, maritime forest, and woodlands.

Range of Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) in the United States and Canada

Range map of giant ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) in the United States and Canada.

 

Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) is native to the mid-west and eastern United States and the province of Ontario in Canada.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Vernonia, is in honor of William Vernon, an English botanist.  The species name, gigantea, is Latin for “giant” and refers to the large size of the plant.

Hosted Insects

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

Native Location

Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8

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