Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed)
|Also known as:||Common Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Swamp Sunflower|
|Habitat:||sun; moist fields, swamps, along shores|
|Bloom season:||August - October|
|Plant height:||2 to 5 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Branching clusters of up to 100 stalked flowers at the top of the plant. Flowers are 1 to 2 inches across with 10 to 15 bright yellow petals (ray flowers), each with 3 shallow lobes at the tip. The large center disk is globular, ¾ to 1-inch in diameter, yellow to brownish.
Surrounding the base of the flower is a single layer of long, narrow bracts that are fused at the base. Flower stalks are finely hairy and slightly swollen at the base of the flower.
Leaves and stem:
Basal leaves are variably shaped and wither away by flowering time. Stem leaves are 3 to 6 inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, widest above the middle, pointed at the tip, with irregular, widely spaced teeth and no leaf stalk. Surfaces are usually finely hairy, especially along major veins on the underside. The base of the leaf extends down the stem, creating a “wing” that extends down to the next leaf and beyond. Stems are erect to ascending, branched in the upper plant, and variously hairy, more sparsely so in the lower plant.
The center disk becomes a round head of dry, brown seed that persists through winter. Seeds are finely hairy but lack a tuft of hairs at the tip.
The bulbous center flower disk and winged stems make this easy to identify. Sneezeweed is widespread in the nursery trade with several cultivars, the flower colors ranging from yellow to orange to deep red, as well as compact forms.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in a private garden in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?
on: 2010-07-07 11:45:51
Sneezeweed can be found at Lilydale Regional Park in Saint Paul, MN.
on: 2012-06-23 11:24:13
I have this growing in the raingarden in my front yard, and it is now about 7 feet tall. It forms a nice barrier between our yard and the street.
on: 2014-02-14 12:59:42
Master Gardener Stearns County
on: 2014-09-16 12:33:54
Tall, thriving, in full bloom in the wet meadow at base of my prairie planting.
on: 2016-08-21 18:58:49
Common along Mississippi River banks in Brooklyn Park's River Park.
on: 2017-10-06 20:19:07
The Canon Valley River Trail, has a lot of sneeze weed, very tall, lots of beautiful plants along the trail, including Virgins Bower, we only see it while it's in seed, quite lovely though.
on: 2018-08-28 22:22:18
In 2006 we planted this along with many other natives as part of our lakeshore restoration. It has taken over about half of the space, which measures approximately 80' x 90'.
on: 2018-09-04 10:11:16
This is a really cool plant and its seeds are cool too. We studied it this plant on our nature walk for homeschool. There is a group of it at the Springbrook Nature Center parking lot.
on: 2020-08-23 19:11:58
Thriving in unmowed moist areas of Chambers Grove city park, Hwys 210 and 23. With bulrush and boneset.
on: 2020-09-03 12:28:17
This came up in my shoreline buffer for the first time this year. I'm especially pleased to find several tri-colored bumblebees enjoying it!
on: 2021-05-06 15:32:37
I've seen this growing along the paths of the area around the Jeffers Petroglyphs. (central MN)
on: 2022-09-03 08:36:07
In Thomas Lake Park, Eagan in parking lot plantings near sign for the picnic shelter. Also in MN Valley NWR Long Meadow Lake paved path from the old RR bridge. Blooms mid August apparently.
on: 2022-09-03 15:41:55
On the shore of Knife Lake in Kanebec County