Plant of the Week: Broadleaf ironweed

This time of year Broadleaf ironweed displays beautiful purple flowers that turn to fluffy seed heads. Photo by Patrick Cullina

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees — each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

Broadleaf ironweed, Vernonia glauca, is native to the southeastern United States, from Mississippi through New Jersey. You will find this plant in a variety of habitats, from prairies to marshes and moist ditches. This time of year it produces deep purple blooms that turn to fluffy golden seed heads.

This plant gets its common name, ironweed, from the rigidity of its stems that have the strength to stand upright through the winter, while its scientific genus name, Vernonia is a nod to English botanist William Vernon who did extensive field work in North America. The genus contains about 1,000 species, most of which are found in South America, Africa, and Asia, where some are used for medicinal purposes.

On the High Line near West 17th Street

Download our September Bloom Guide.

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