Appalachia Medicinal Remedies

End of Summer Purple Blooms

My life in appalachia Ironweed the purple robe

There is a shade of purple in
this flower near summer’s end that makes
you proud to be alive in such
a world, and thrilled to know the gift
of sight. It seems a color sent
from memory or dream. In fields,
along old trails, at pasture edge,
the ironweed bares its vivid tint,
profoundest violet, a note
from farthest star and deepest time,
the glow of sacred royalty
and timbre of eternity
right here beside a dried-up stream.

—Robert Morgan

Roadsides and fields in Southern Appalachia have put on their purple robe. Ironweed is in full bloom. This time of year always feels old to me. The brightness of flower and vegetable gardens have mostly faded, and even the trees take on a lackluster look as they get ready for their show of fall color.

I think of Ironweed as the last hurray of summer. It’s warm purple robe hugs the curvy roads I drive. It almost seems to be warning me that old man winter is on the way and I need to store up the beauty and warmth that’s left from summer so I can pull it out on a cold winter’s day and know summer will surely return again.

I read somewhere that Ironweed got its name because its stalk is too tough for grazing animals to eat.

The “Foxfire 11book quotes Charles Thurmond on the subject of using Ironweed for medicinal purposes:

“Ironweed is very gentle. You don’t really realize it’s working. You make a concoction and use it on the surface of the skin for skin disease and things like that.”


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  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    September 21, 2021 at 11:26 am

    The heat and high humidity of this summer has been very hard for me. I am tired ….I love fall…it’s beautiful colors. I am trying hard to not think like my old Daddy who used to say he could not enjoy the colors of fall for knowing the hard winter was coming too soon.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2021 at 11:06 am

    That is good to know. Didn’t know you could use it as med s and so on. Skin purposes.

    • Reply
      Janet Hutchinson
      September 22, 2021 at 4:19 pm

      Gigi, I, too, have a hard time truly enjoying Fall, due to dreading Winter’s chill. Perhaps we can “ease” into a not-so-harsh winter this coming year! I truly hope that’s the way it will be!
      Jan H.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    September 21, 2021 at 10:48 am

    When I see Joe Pye Weed, Ironweed, and Golden Rod I know Fall is here for sure. I love all the seasons, but I think I love Fall the best.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2021 at 10:20 am

    I haven’t seen any close to my house but on the ole farm there are hundreds on the old pasture field. There is also lots of joe pye weed but I like the ironweed best.

  • Reply
    Annie Buck
    September 21, 2021 at 9:38 am

    Robert Morgan is one of my favorite writers, I was happy to see a poem by him today.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    September 21, 2021 at 8:38 am

    Robert Morgan beautifully points out a glorious reality that we often miss in the mad hustle of our lives. Your words this morning have reminded me that the changes we see are all in God’s wonderful design.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Beautiful picture and when I first looked at it I thought it was Bachelor Buttons. I googled Ironweed and realized it was a different plant and that the American Indians used it for medicinal purposes. We see it along side roadways here and along fence posts in pastures. That was also a beautiful poem to start the day. Thanks, Tipper!!

  • Reply
    Margie G
    September 21, 2021 at 8:30 am

    I will definitely take note of Ironweed’s folk remedy. I dewormed all the pets with turpentine spirits and everyone is alive, worm free and spunky this morning! Don’t believe all the quackery and tried and true still works! Here in WV, I see Goldenrod on every roadside and I think it’s yellow color is grand yet beckons of winter on the way. All I can say is we must live each day and enjoy each day for tomorrow is not promised. Have a great day just living and breathing today!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 21, 2021 at 8:15 am

    There aren’t a lot of purple flowers and none – I think – as attention-getting as ironweed. As you mention, for whatever reason cows will not eat it so about now old pastures can take on a purple blanket. I have not seen any around here though. What I see instead is goldenrod.

    I have what I only know to call “artichoke” in three corners of my garden. They are a form of wild sunflower. They are gorgeous; yellow clouds atop twelve- foot stalks.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    September 21, 2021 at 7:59 am

    This time of year does feel old. I always judge the season by the oak tree out front. When it starts looking tired, I know the season is changing.

    Tipper, you had a great name for this time of year when everything starts to fade a little. I can’t remember it now.

    But, today autumn came to NE Ohio with a cold rain. Here we go!

  • Reply
    Carolyn Rains
    September 21, 2021 at 7:45 am

    Purple Rode in nature has put on a new theme in my Christian walk. It been there all the time and I just haven’t noticed.
    God drawing His nature to Him to rest in Him.
    Thank you for sharing that and for to see a new image our God’s Beautiful world.
    Love, Carolyn

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 21, 2021 at 7:41 am

    I love to look at ironweed, but it has competitors in the purple sweepstakes, with Joe Pye Weed and fluff flower (argeretum) being among them. Lovely as they all are though, I do believe I would have to select cardinal flower for my favorite when it comes to autumn brilliance.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    September 21, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Saw some of this out Bryson City yesterday…

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 21, 2021 at 7:10 am

    Yes, it is that time of year when I feel the earth gearing down to rest. I don’t begrudge the the rest but I am sad over the loss of brightness.

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