Few floral sights are more spectacular than a meadow filled with Ironweed, whose vivid purple can never be adequately captured in a photograph. This meadow was blooming in early September along a tributary of the Pine Creek near Wexford.
Gray describes the genus and the species:
VERNONIA Schreb. IRONWEED
Heads discoid, 16-many-flowered, in corymbose cymes; flowers perfect; involucre shorter than the flowers, of much imbricated bracts. Achenes cylindrical, ribbed; pappus double, the outer of minute scale-like bristles, the inner of copious capillary bristles. Perennial herbs, with leafy steins, alternate acuminate or very acute serrate leaves and mostly purple (rarely white) flowers. (Named for William Vernon, an early English botanist, who traveled in North America. )
V. noveboracensis Willd. Rather tall (1-2 m.); leaves long-lanceolate to lance-oblong, more or less pubescent beneath, gradually narrowed but not at all acuminate toward the base; cyme open; heads mostly 30-40-flowered; involucre purplish (or in white-flowered individuals green), campanulate; the bracts ovate or lance-ovate, with loosely ascending or recurved-spreading filiform tips; pappus purple or purplish. Low ground near the coast, Mass, to Va. and Miss.; reported from Pelee I., L. Erie (Macoun).