This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2010. It’s September in Appalachia and the roadsides are once again taking on a purple hue.
Roadsides and fields have put on their purple robe. Ironweed is in full bloom in the southern mountains of Appalachia.
I read somewhere that Ironweed got it’s name because it’s stalk is too tough for grazing animals to eat. Ironweed spreads easily and I’ve noticed it’s taken over more than one old field.
There is a low growing Ironweed and a tall variety. The Ironweed that lines my driveway is the tall variety-it must be close to 7 feet tall as you can see from the photo it drapes over into the road.
The Foxfire 11 book 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.”
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 hurrah of summer. It’s warm purple robe hugs the curvy roads I drive. It almost seems to be warning me: Old Man Winter is on his way, store up the beauty and warmth that’s left from Summer so you can pull it out on a cold winter’s day and know summer will surely return again.