Mt Cuba Center
Mt Cuba Center
Back to News Updates – April 16, 2019


Botanical Discoveries

Vernonia, or ironweed, is a hardy and beautiful native, that has the potential to be a great garden plant, especially for pollinators — but you probably won’t find it at the garden center. That’s why we’re adding it to our Trial Garden this year, along with a much-anticipated Solidago trial.

In order to find enough specimens to conduct a robust trial, our Director of Collections and Conservation Lead, Amy Highland, joined a plant expedition to search for it and other plants. While out in the field she discovered Vernonia angustifolia var. angustifolia, or tall ironweed, far outside its known range – near the Florida panhandle. This is news to the entire botanic community and deepens our understanding of these plants. This means the plant is capable of handling more environs than previously thought and might be more tolerant of different growing conditions than thought.

It’s also a reminder that we don’t totally understand some of our most common plant species! We look forward to learning even more about this and other plants collected on that trip in our upcoming plant trials.

To learn more about past trials, visit

Read the full report here: