, 2-20(-30+) dm (rhizomatous or not). Leaves
usually mostly cauline (rarely mostly basal or basal and cauline); sessile or petiolate; blades ovate, elliptic, lanceolate, oblanceolate, spatulate, linear, or filiform, bases usually ± cuneate (rounded-truncate in V. pulchella
), margins usually toothed (rarely entire), apices acute to attenuate, abaxial faces usually ± scabrellous to strigillose or tomentose to pannose, sometimes glabrate or glabrous, usually resin-gland-dotted (sometimes ± pitted), adaxial faces ± scabrellous or glabrate, sometimes resin-gland-dotted (rarely pitted). Heads
discoid, ± pedunculate, not subtended by foliaceous bracts, (6-)40-100+ in ± corymbiform to paniculiform arrays (6-)10-25+ cm diam. Involucres
± campanulate to obconic or hemispheric, 3-8(-11+) mm diam. Phyllaries
18-70+ in 4-7+ series, the outer ovate to lanceolate or subulate, inner ± lanceolate to oblong, all ± chartaceous, margins entire, often ciliolate, tips rounded (then sometimes apiculate), or acuminate, subulate, or filiform, faces glabrous or sparsely strigillose to tomentose, sometimes ± gland-dotted. Florets
9-30(-65+); corollas usually purplish or pink (rarely white), tubes longer than funnelform throats, lobes 5, lance-linear, ± equal. Cypselae
± columnar, sometimes arcuate, 8-10-ribbed, glabrous or ± strigillose to hirtellous, often resin-gland-dotted; pappi
persistent, of 20-30+ outer, erose to subulate scales or bristles plus 20-40+ inner, longer, subulate to setiform scales or bristles. x
= 17. The circumscription of Vernonia
adopted here follows that of H. Robinson (1999).
Vernonias hybridize; almost every one of the species recognized here has been noted as sometimes hybridizing with one or more others. Putative hybrid plants are usually intermediate between parentals in some traits; such plants may not 'key' satisfactorily to any of the species treated here. Some putative hybrids have been named. Vernonia guadalupensis is 'without much doubt a hybrid of V. baldwinii Torrey and V. lindheimeri Engelmann & Gray' (L. H. Shinners 1950); V. vulturina Shinners (known only from the type collection) may be a product of V. baldwinii × V. marginata; V. ×georgiana Bartlett may refer to V. acaulis × V. angustifolia. Additional putative hybrids (S. B. Jones 1964) are V. ×concinna Gleason (V. ovalifolia × V. angustifolia), V. ×dissimilis Gleason (V. altissima × V. angustifolia), and V. ×recurva Gleason (V. pulchella × V. angustifolia).
In the key and descriptions, 'l/w = ' refers to lengths divided by widths for blades of leaves; lengths of phyllaries include subulate to filiform tips (if any).