New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
New York ironweed
The source of the common name has been varyingly attributed to:
1) certain "iron-like" plant qualities including the tough stems, 2) their
stout stems that often persist throughout the winter, 3) the rusty-tinged
color of fading flowers and 4) the rusty colored seeds.
Behen noveboracensis (L.) Hill
Behen noveborascense Hill
Cacalia noveboracensis (L.) Kuntze
Chrysocoma noveboracensis Desf.
Chrysocoma tomentosa Walter
Serratula caroliniana Mill.
Serratula noveboracensis L.
Serratula praealta L.
Vernonia harperi Gleason
Vernonia tomentosa (Walter)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for New York
ironweed is Vernonia noveboracensis (L.) Michx. Ironweed is a common
name often given to a many different weeds, however it is most correctly
given to those members of the Vernonia genus. Several other related iron-
weed species may be found in similar habitats, and these are primarily
distinguished by the presence or absence of basal leaves, the width of the
stem leaves, and the presence or absence of toothed leaf margins.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This species of ironweed is a tall, coarse, upright perennial with
stems that are erect, ranging from 2 to 7 feet in height. Several stems can
arise from a single crown. Stems usually persist through the winter. All
leaves occur along the erect stem unlike some ironweeds which have many
basal leaves and smaller stem leaves.
Leaves: The leaves are lance-shaped leaves, elliptic to lanceolate in out-
line, rough, pointed, serrated, with many small teeth occurring along the
leaf margins, ranging from 4 to 10 inches in length (typically 6-8" long)
and 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches in width. Leaves are usually without hairs on the
upper surface and may have many soft white hairs beneath.
Flowers: Flowers occur in clusters at the ends of the erect flowering stems.
Flowers are purple in color, approximately 8 to 12 mm long. Each flower
occurs on a flower stalk (peduncle). It features numerous tiny, fluffy, deep
purple, composite flowers (rays absent) in loose, 3-4" wide, terminal
clusters (cymes) atop stiff, leafy stems typically growing 4-6' tall. Flowers
give way to rusty seed clusters.
Fruit/Seeds: The fruit is a nutlet.
Roots: Roots connected to a basal crown from which plants can arise year
REGENERATION PROCESS: New York ironweed propogates
itself by reseeding.
HABITAT TYPES: New York ironweed is primarily a weed of pastures,
hay fields, and roadsides, waste areas, ditches, and areas where there is
sufficient moisture such as moist thickets, low areas and along stream-
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Although it tolerates a wide range of soils
New York ironweed prefers rich, moist, slightly acidic soils. It can be
easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: New York ironweed blooms in late
summer into continues into fall, generally August to October.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: New York ironweed is distributed
throughout most of New England, the Atlantic states and the southeastern
United States. It extends to the Mississippi River; further west it is less
common to non-existent. It has apparently been inroducted into New
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: New York ironweed's flowers attract
butterflies (e.g., crossline skipper, fiery skipper, American lady,
sachem), and the seed heads attract birds.
New York ironweed is used for landscape and ornamental purposes.
It is used as a background plant for borders and is a favorite in cot-
tage gardens, wildflower gardens, meadows and naturalized areas.
Crooked Run Valley