Ben here with the Wednesday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Wednesday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Wednesday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Today's post isn't about the butterfly; instead, it's about the plant that the butterfly is enjoying. This is ironweed, which belongs to the genus Vernonia, and if you like seeing butterflies, this is a wonderful native plant to keep around. (Also, the butterfly is Speyeria cybele, also called the great spangled fritillary -- I've done a post or two about them before.)

The genus vernonia contains about 350 species. They generally have intensely purple flowers and tough, dark-colored stems. I think this particular species might be Vernonia noveboracensis, also known as New York ironweed, which is common on the east coast of the U.S. Ironweed tends to prefer rich, slightly acidic soil, and it also seems to prefer a great deal of moisture; on my property, it mostly grows in low, swampy areas intercut with creeks.

Many native plant nurseries sell ironweed, and it's a great native plant to add to your property. It blooms in late summer, and butterflies go crazy for it!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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