To me, this flower almost looks like some kind of bee balm (but it’s not). The bright flowers are a big attractor for bees and butterflies, however.
I couldn’t find much information on this plant, except there is some interesting about an African species of Vernonia. Chimpanzees experiencing gastrointestinal problems seek out this plant and eat it – as the plant has powerful antibiotic and antiparasitic properties. There is not a lot of research on animals (besides humans) seeking out plants for medicinal purposes, so it’s pretty fascinating!
Size: 3'-7' tall. Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower Family) Habitat: Moist and low woods, fields, and roadsides. More common in the mountains than in the piedmont. Identification: "Stems with numerous lanceolate leaves, 4-8 in. long. A half dozen or more flower heads in flat-topped clusters, each head with 30-50 deep purple-violet disk flowers. Flowers July-September." From Wildflowers & Plant Communities.