New York Ironweed by the East Don River: August 2020

Because I spend much time out in nature, it has become somewhat unusual for me to come across a wildflower that I have never seen before. If I do, it is usually a very inconspicuous plant hidden among more noticeable species.

Today was an exception.

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

I came across a gorgeous, 6 foot high plant covered with purple blossoms.

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

A glance at a field guide tells me that is New York Ironweed.

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

We are at the northern limit for ironweed which is found in moist meadows.

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

The leaves are lance-shaped and finely toothed.

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

Ironweed received its common name from its ironlike qualities: tough stems, tenacious growing habit, and flowers that give way to seed clusters the color of rust.

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

Some botany by the East Don:

Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Hedge-parsley (Torilis japonica)
Elecampane (Inula helenium)
Elecampane (Inula helenium)
St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina)
Common Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Spindletree (Euonymus europaea)
Red Oak acorns
Birdfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatis)
Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)
Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Purple-flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus)
Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe)
False Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Pinkweed (Persicaria pensylvanica)
Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)
Wild-cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)
Highbush-cranberry (Viburnum opulus)
Wild-bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Some birds:

American Goldfinch (male)
Eastern Kingbird

Views from near the East Don River north of Finch Ave.


High noon in August! over all the land
The very air is palpitant with heat;
While stretching far, the fields of ripening wheat
Unrippled lie as plains of yellow sand!                      – Henry Sylvester Cornwell (1831–86) 

Miles Hearn

3 thoughts on “New York Ironweed by the East Don River: August 2020

  1. Gert Trudel

    I am so thrilled to be learning the names of the plants. Thank you for posting everyday…I sure hope you don’t get tired!!!!!!
    I still get mixed up at times…but it takes time to train your eye to spot ‘that little’ difference ….much like when first birding when every bird was just ‘ a little brown job’..

    1. Leigh

      For years I’ve admired a beautiful Ironweed plant at Brick Works Park, next to the path skirting the far (i.e. north) side of the first pond (i.e. the pond closest to industrial pad). I look for it in late summer when it finally blooms. Its colour is super-saturated. I always knew it as just Ironweed so I’m intrigued to learn there are different types such as New York. I’m guessing Brick Works’ incumbent is Giant Ironweed, listed in the and plant databases along with Missouri Ironweed and “Fasicled” (?!) Ironweed which is native to Manitoba. Anyway it’s a beaut.


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