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This is one of the easier ironweeds (Vernonia spp.) to identify because of the distinctive appearance of the phyllaries (floral bracts) – long and thread-like. No other ironweed has this kind of phyllary at the base of its flowerheads. Great Ironweed (Vernonia arkansana) also differs from other ironweeds by its narrow leaves and the large number of disk florets (50-100) in each flowerhead. Other species in this genus have flowerheads with fewer disk florets (20-50) and their flowerheads are less wide. Other common names of Vernonia arkansana that are occasionally used include 'Ozark Ironweed' and 'Curlytop Ironweed.' An alternative scientific name for this species is Vernonia crinita. I am happy to see this wonderful wildflower back in the state again.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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