Ironweed Varieties For Gardens – How To Grow Vernonia Ironweed Flowers:
Vernonia ironweed is one of the most common weeds in gardens. It grows naturally in many areas of the world. Its name comes from its resemblance to a weed with its white flowers. It produces small white flowers that are usually followed by large red berries which fall off when touched or picked up. These berries contain a bitter substance called gallic acid.
When eaten, they cause nausea and vomiting. They are poisonous if ingested in large amounts. The seeds of vinonia ironweed produce a milder poison called gallic acid methyl ether (GAME). It causes similar symptoms but less severe ones. The seeds have been used medicinally for centuries and are still used today in some countries such as India, China, Japan and Korea where it is known as “mahajika”.
The flowers of vinonia ironweed are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. However, their flavor is not pleasant so they are rarely consumed raw. Cooking destroys much of the bitterness but does not destroy the beneficial properties of the seeds. They make excellent tea and can be added to salads, soups, stews, sauces and other dishes. The seeds can also be ground into a powder to use as a spice or sprinkled over food for extra flavor.
The roots can be used to make a coffee-like beverage when dried and roasted.
The leaves of the plant are edible and nutritious. They can be cooked in a similar way as cabbage, kale and other dark, leafy greens. The cooked leaves taste similar to broccoli and are rich in protein, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins (especially vitamin A), minerals and carbohydrates. The flowers of the plant are also edible. They can be eaten raw or cooked and have a slightly sweet flavor.
The berries of the plant are more toxic than the leaves and flowers but they can be eaten if cooked or roasted to destroy the dangerous toxins. The seeds can also be eaten after roasting to destroy the toxins and can be used as a coffee substitute.
You can grow vernonia in your garden as an ornamental plant. It is especially effective when planted near steps, pathways, patios, pools and other high-use traffic areas where its reach cannot go. It is good for keeping away and controlling pests such as mosquitoes and other flying insects. It works effectively as both a Vegetable and a herb. It is the national flower of India.
You can identify Ironweed by its dark green leaves, purple stems, thistle-like flowers and seeds. The plant generally grows up to three feet and thrives in swampy, marshy and wet soil. It flowers from summer until fall and tends to grow in large clusters. This plant attracts bees, butterflies and other insects but is toxic to most animals. Native Americans used the roots, leaves and seeds to treat skin conditions.
The plant contains sesquiterpenes, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, amides, steroidal saponins and more.
The root of the plant is a good substitute for roots such as ginger and galangal. The flower can be used to make tea, improve mental focus and relieve pain. The leaves can be eaten in salads or cooked similarly to cabbage, kale and other greens. They are high in antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals. The seeds can be used as a spice or ground into a powder for cooking.
They have a slightly spicy, nutty, peppery flavor.
This plant generally only grows in wet areas such as swamps, murky lakes and rivers in tropical rainforests and prefers damp soil. It cannot survive in hot, dry conditions. It is mainly found in India and throughout Southeast Asia but is also common in Africa. In Australia, this plant has become naturalized in the Northern Territory. The flowers are a favorite among bees, butterflies and other insects.
The leaves are generally covered in small bumps or blisters.
This plant contains a number of compounds that have health benefits. There have been numerous studies done on its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects among other things. Ironweed can be taken to relieve pain, increase circulation and stop internal and external bleeding. It is also an effective sedative and antibiotic. The root of the plant is most commonly used but the stem, leaves and flowers can also be used medicinally.
It can be found at most herbal stores or online.
It is typically taken as a tea, dried and crushed into a powder to be eaten, or in capsule form. The root and stem can be eaten as a vegetable. It has a bitter flavor so it is commonly cooked with onions or other strong flavors.
You should never take more than one teaspoon of the root per day. Overdosing can cause excessive bleeding, organ damage and even death. Pregnant women should not take this herb at all as it can cause miscarriages. It is not advised to use this herb by those with peptic ulcers, stomach or intestinal bleeding, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders or those who are taking blood thinners such as aspirin or warfarin without supervision from a doctor. It may also interact with other medications so you should always talk to your doctor before using this herb.
It can cause drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, trouble breathing and other serious side effects so you should not drive or operate heavy machinery after using this herb. Side effects generally subside once the herb is stopped.
This plant is widely available in herbal stores, Asian markets and even some grocery stores. It is fairly inexpensive.
You can grow this plant easily at home. It is best grown in damp soil and does best in partial shade. Leaves should be harvested before the flower pops out.
Edgar Cayce used this medicinally to treat colds, fevers and other ailments. It is rich in iron so it helps prevent anemia.
While there are few official studies many people report that this herb has helped them with their allergies.
Sources & references used in this article:
Differential benefits from ant attendance to two species of Homoptera on New York ironweed by CM Bristow – The Journal of Animal Ecology, 1984 – JSTOR
The life histories of two species of Homoptera on ironweed (Vernonia spp.) with summaries of host and geographical ranges by CM Bristow – Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 1984 – JSTOR
Customary uses of ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) by the Yuchi in eastern Oklahoma, USA by JB Jackson – Economic Botany, 2000 – JSTOR
Vernonia noveboracensis-New Crop Summary and Recommendations by J Jonely – 2012 – conservancy.umn.edu