Florida Ironweed

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A herbaceous perennial, the Florida Ironweed, Vernonia blodgettii, grows in the moist sandy soils in pine flatwoods mainly in Florida’s southern counties.  This species usually has a single erect purplish stem growing to about 2 feet in height.  Leaves are alternate on the stem, linear to lanceolate in shape. Leaf margins are smooth. Leaves at the lower part of the stems are up to 3 inches in length. Leaves grow progressively smaller as they advance up the stem.

The plant branching occurs in the upper portion of the plant. At the tips of the branches are  clusters of a dozen or more flower heads. Heads are made up of tiny modified greenish leaves called bracts. Each head can bear about 20 tiny tubular flowers a little less than ½ inch in length and about 1/8 inch in diameter. Two stamens appear at the tube opening. Flowers are rose to purple in color.

This specie is a member of the Asteraceae, Aster family.  Usually, Asters have the usual sunflower shape of ray florets surrounding disc florets, but not always. Some Aster species have only ray florets and some only disc florets. Florida Ironweed has only disc florets or flowers.

The specimen in the picture was take in the Estero Bay Buffer Preserve.