General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Dry Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 2 to 3.5 feet usually, to 5 feet
Plant Spread: 2 to 6 feet
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Purple
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Late summer or early fall
Uses: Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Flood Resistant
Drought tolerant
Pollinators: Moths and Butterflies
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil

Common names
  • Gray Narrowleaf Ironweed

Photo Gallery
Location: Wayne, Pennsylvania
Date: 2023-08-20
close-up of flowers and foliage
Location: Wayne, Pennsylvania
Date: 2023-08-20
one plant in bloom that came up next to plants of the cultivar of

Date: 2013-09-04

Date: 2013-09-12
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date: 2013-09-02
Vernonia Iron Butterfly
  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Aug 26, 2023 11:19 AM concerning plant:
    This Ironweed species is native to Oklahoma & Arkansas. It is best identified by its very narrow linear leaves that grow about 1 to 3 inches long and 1/8 inches wide. The leaves are also alternate without hairs. This gives it a very fine texture and makes it wispy. The species was named after George W. Letterman who was a botanist famous in his day of the mid-1800's into the early 1900's. He lived in a one room cabin near St Louis, MO. The mother species has not really been used in gardening; however, it has at least two cultivars that are getting around, being planted even in the eastern USA. I did not expect to ever run across this mother species, but one plant came up next to several of the cultivar of 'Iron Butterfly' that were planted in the front of a church yard that was much taller and wider than the others and not with a compact habit, and I conclude that it must be the mother species that somehow sneaked through.

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