This very tall, late-summer flower is ubiquitous in our part of VIrginia. The small, deep purple flowers begin to bloom in fields and along roadsides in August. The spectacular show of color continues through fall.
Ironweed is a perennial wildflower, and a member of the Aster family. The leaves of the plant are elliptic to lanceolate and in the case of New York ironweed (shown here, I think), the leaves have a finely toothed margin. There are several other species of ironwood recognized in the genus Veronia. The typical habitat for them is moist areas–in ditches, seeps, and moist thickets.
The name “ironweed” comes from the characteristic stems, which are very tough and can persist right through the winter. Some say the name also refers to the stems, flowers and seeds, which age with time to a “rusty” color. Look for this coloration as you scan the photographs below.