Common, smooth, prairie irons…

Common Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) is another late blooming purple flowering native to wet prairies. It is common, as the name implies and also called Prairie Ironweed. Though it is a native plant it is sometimes considered a weed in pastures because cattle grazing tend to avoid it for its bitterness; thus, when all other vegetation is grazed, the Common Ironweed can flourish. I always considered the greyish new leaf growth in the spring the origin of its name, Ironweed. However, it’s also believed to be so named for the toughness of the stems or instead for the rusty colored seedheads. Such are the basis for folktales; the multiple meanings behind native plants. It was used by some Native Americans as a pain reliever. Copyright 2023 Pamela Breitberg


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