Vernonia baldwinii

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: western ironweed 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Central and southern United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates both moist and dry soils. Plants grow taller in moist soils. Overall plant height may be reduced by cutting back stems nearly to the ground in late spring. Remove flower heads before seed develops to avoid any unwanted self-seeding. Easily grown from seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Vernonia baldwinii, commonly callled western ironweed or Baldwin's ironweed, is native to Missouri where it typically occurs in dry woods, meadows, prairies, glades, fields, waste areas and along railroad tracks throughout the State. Although many of the ironweeds are indigenous to wetland areas, this species is one that is commonly found in drier soils including the Great Plains. It is a coarse, upright perennial typically growing 3-4' (infrequently to 5') tall on stiff, leafy stems which branch at the top. Composite flowers with fluffy, purple disks (rays absent) appear in flattened, loose, terminal clusters (corymbs) which bloom from late summer to fall. Rough, pointed, serrate, lance-shaped leaves (4-7" long). Flowers give way to rusty seed clusters. The source of the common name has been varyingly attributed to certain "iron-like" plant qualities including tough stems, rusty-tinged fading flowers and rusty colored seeds. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies.

Genus name honors William Vernon (d. c. 1711), English botanist who collected in Maryland in 1698.

Specific epithet is in reference to William Baldwin who has been credited with first collecting the plant.


No serious insect of disease problems.


Naturalize in cottage gardens, wildflower meadows, prairies or native plant gardens. Also effective as a background plant for borders.