Plants 8-20(-30+) dm. Stems puberulent, glabrescent. Leaves mostly cauline; blades ± lanceolate, 12-25+ cm × 20-60+ mm, l/w = (3.5-)4-7+, abaxially scabrellous (hairs awl-shaped), sometimes glabrescent, not or sparsely resin-gland-dotted, adaxially strigillose, glabrescent, not resin-gland-dotted. Heads in corymbiform-scorpioid arrays. Peduncles 1-12(-20+) mm. Involucres broadly campanulate to hemispheric, 4-5+ × 4-5 mm. Phyllaries 30-40+ in 4-5 series, glabrate, margins ciliolate, the outer lance-ovate, 1-2 mm, inner oblong, 3.5-5 mm, tips acute or rounded-apiculate. Florets (9-)18-24(-30). Cypselae 2.5-3.5 mm; pappi usually purplish, sometimes stramineous, outer scales 20-25, 0.5-1 mm, contrasting with 35-40+, 4.5-6+ mm inner bristles. 2n = 34. Flowering Jun-Sep. Flood plains; 10-300 m; Ont.; Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kans., Ky., La., Md., Mich., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Probably found in every county of the state although there are no authentic reports from the northwestern counties. Usually frequent to common or abundant in the eastern part of the lake area and in the Tipton Till Plain, becoming rare in the unglaciated area. It has a wide range of habitat and is found in dry, open or moist woodland, fallow fields and prairies, and rarely in driedup sloughs and swamps. Pepoon's reports for Hill and for Umbach from Porter County are referred by Fassett (Rhodora 35: 202. 1933) to V. missurica Raf.
[Vernonia altissima var. lilacina] is a form with "pinkish-lavender" flowers which was found on the campus of Butler University at Indianapolis. The flowers of this species are variable, ranging from purplish, the normal color, to colorless (white). In the white form the bracts are usually green with no trace of purple. I have seen this form several times. In a pasture of about five acres in Montgomery County it was noted repeatedly. I have collected a rose colored form in Lagrange County. I have had the white and rose colored forms in cultivation for several years and as far as I have been able to determine, they continue the same color forms.
Stems 1-3 m, glabrous or nearly so; lvs thin, lanceolate to lance-oblong or lance-ovate, 10-30 נ3-7 cm, long-acuminate, gradually narrowed to the base, finely serrate to subentire, glabrous or nearly so above, thinly pubescent with minute (rarely 0.3 mm) straight hairs beneath; infl loose, flattened to concave or irregular, 2-5 dm wide; fls 13-30; invol 4-7 mm, its principal bracts appressed, regularly imbricate, obtuse, rounded, or rarely apiculate, usually purple, arachnoid-ciliate or entire, commonly glabrous and not resinous on the back; pappus purple to brown or tan; 2n=34. Moist or wet woods, and becoming weedy in pastures; w. N.Y. to s. Mich. and e. Nebr., s. to S.C., Fla., and Tex. Ours is the widespread var. gigantea. (V. altissima)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.