|Common Sneezeweed – Helenium autumnale|
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Common names: bitterweed, false sunflower, fall sneezeweed
Native Americans used sneezeweed as an infusion of roots given to prevent menstruation after childbirth, and an infusion for fever.
A winged stem bearing yellow, daisy-like flower heads with fan-shaped, drooping rays; disk flowers forming a conspicuous, greenish-yellow, ball-like structure at center of head. Flowers are 1-2" across; rays 3-lobed. Leaves: To 6" long, alternate, lanceolate, toothed, with bases forming winged extensions down stem. Height: 2 – 5 feet. Sneezeweed is native to, and widespread across North America. The common name comes from the former use of its dried leaves in making snuff, inhaled through the nostrils to cause sneezing.
The most common visitors to the flowers are long-tongued bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, miner bees, and large leaf-cutting bees. Other visitors include wasps, butterflies, bee flies, and beetles. These insects seek nectar or collect pollen, although some beetles eat the pollen. The caterpillars of Papaipema rigida (Rigid Sunflower Borer Moth) bore through the stems and eat the pith.
Habitat: wet meadows, thickets, swamps. Flowering time: August to November.
Common North American Flowers
A flower is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The flower contains the plant's reproductive organs, and its function is to produce seeds. After fertilization, portions of the flower develop into a fruit containing the seeds.
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