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.
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 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.
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