Tall purple wildflower in autumn
Every autumn, here in Kentucky, I saw a tall purple wildflower but I didn't know its name
My tall purple wildlfowers are blooming all over this part of the county right now. It has been a good year for them. I stopped along the road a few days ago and took some photos.
When I got home, I decided to look up a little information about Joe Pye weed -- and that's when I discovered that this flower is actually ironweed. Boy, do I feel silly. "Ah orta node." (I'm lapsing into dialect to draw attention away from my red face.)
I should have known because a similar-but-shorter flower grows in Nebraska marshes and lowlands. Now that I've heard the name, I've made the association.
In Kentucky, we have tall ironweed (Vernonia altissima) that can reach 10 feet in height. The Nebraska flower is prairie ironweed, (Vernonia fasciculata Michx.,) typically 2 to 4 feet tall. The flowers of prairie and tall ironweed are quite similar.
It's not surprising that the 30 varieties of Vernonia found in the U.S. are all members of the aster family. Given the spiky flowers and the late-summer blooming schedule, it makes perfect sense.
One day last week. I was riding with friends through the countryside to the little settlement of Kirkmansville. In a field along the road, I saw an impressive stand of a wildflower that I didn't recognize. They had big pinkish-purple blooms. Now that I've seen photos of Joe Pye weed, I think that might be what they were. However, I'm going to get a positive ID before I start calling them by name!